Alcohol Crashes Up 1st Time in 10 Year

Drinking And Driving Fatalities Increase

ITASCA, Ill., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ — Fatal injuries increased for the
third straight year, according to a report released today by the National
Safety Council. The council’s 1996 “Accident Facts,” its 76th annual
report on injuries in America, shows that deaths caused by fatal injuries
increased to 93,300 in 1995, a two percent increase from 91,400 deaths in
1994. Since 1992, when deaths reached a 68-year low of 86,777, fatalities
have increased eight percent.

“The third increase in a row is a major cause for concern,” said
council President Jerry Scannell. “The continued growth in the economy
can explain some, but not all, of the increase. This report clearly
demonstrates that a redoubling of injury prevention efforts is necessary.
Increasing traffic law enforcement and adopting stronger legislation can
save more lives. Always wearing a safety belt and never drinking and
driving are two choices everyone can make to substantially decrease the
risk of injury,” Scannell added.

Motor vehicle crashes caused 43,900 deaths in 1995 — a three percent
increase from 1994. Council officials say an increase in drinking and
driving fatalities added to the rise in deaths. Alcohol-related traffic
fatalities increased by 4 percent last year for the first time in ten
years. In 1995, 41 percent of traffic fatalities involved alcohol,
according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Sadly, the ‘don’t drink and drive’ message is being ignored by more
people. Tougher laws against drunk driving, such as license revocation,
.08 BAC, and stronger, high visibility enforcement are the proven ways to
reverse the increase,” said Scannell.

Although the council believes higher speed limits will lead to
increased fatalities, the specific effects of the 1995 congressional
action to repeal the National Maximum Speed Limit will not be known for
at least a year, according to Alan Hoskin, the council’s statistics
manager. “We need to look at a full year of data before we really know
what effect the law’s repeal has had,” Hoskin said.

Motor vehicle crashes are the single greatest cause of death due to
fatal injuries, accounting for nearly half of the 1995 death total.
Injuries in the home caused 26,400 deaths, injuries in public places
caused 20,100 deaths and work injuries caused 5,300 fatalities.

Poisoning Deaths Increase Poisonings by solids and liquids caused
10,000 deaths in 1995 — an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
Since 1985, poisonings have increased by 144 percent. A surge in drug
overdoses, primarily cocaine, is the main reason for the increase. For
the first time, poisonings caused more deaths in the home than falls.

At home, work and in public places, falls caused 12,600 deaths; 4,500
people died from drowning; 4,100 died from fires and burns; and, 1,400
people died from unintentional firearms injuries.

Cost To Society

The council estimates that injuries cost society $434.8 billion in
1995. This includes estimates of economic costs of fatal and nonfatal
unintentional injuries together with employer costs, vehicle damage costs
and fire losses. The costs by class were: motor vehicle, $170.6 billion;
work, $119.4; and, home and public, $158.4 billion. In 1995, fatal
injuries were the fifth leading cause of death behind heart disease,
cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Further information, including charts and tables, is available by
accessing the council’s home page at http://www.nsc.org.

The National Safety Council is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental
international public service organization dedicated to reducing fatal
injuries.

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