WASHINGTON — Accidents are killing more Americans each year, increasingly from overdoses and falls.

A new report from the National Safety Council said that in 2014, more than 136,000 Americans died accidentally. That’s up 4.2 percent from the year before and a jump of 15.5 percent over a decade. And the accident rate has risen despite a 22 percent plunge in car crash deaths since 2005.

Overdoses and accidental poisonings are up 78 percent over a decade – pushing aside car crashes as the No. 1 accidental killer in the U.S. They killed 42,032 people, about 6,000 more than vehicle accidents. Opioid overdoses killed 13,486 people in 2014, the non-profit safety council reported.

Falls are up 63 percent over a decade, which experts said is a function of an aging society.

“It’s all preventable. Every accident is preventable,” Ken Kolosh, the safety council’s statistical manager said in a Thursday news conference. He said the point is not that people are accident-prone, but that society is not doing enough to prevent people from dying by accident.

An American dies of accidental injury every four minutes. If you count people who do not die but need medical help, the rate increases to one every second, according to the safety council.

Where you live can more than double the rate of accidental deaths. Maryland, California and New York have the lowest accidental death rates – around 30 per 100,000 people. West Virginia – driven by overdoses, Kolosh said – has the highest accidental death rate at 75.2 per 100,000, followed by Oklahoma (64.3) and Montana (61.4). The national average is 41.3 accidental deaths per 100,000 people.

“Unintentional injuries are clearly a real public health issue,” said George Gray, a George Washington University public health professor and expert on risk.


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