A new study released by the Trust For America's Health (TFAH) shows almost half of all U.S. states scored low on the Injury Prevention Report Card. The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report ranked states on ten indicators and 24 of them scored a five or lower.
The indicators used in the study included regulations for seat belts, drunk driving, motorcycle helmets, booster seats, bicycle helmet use, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, concussions, accidental prescription drug overdose or use, and the use of injury tracking systems. The five that Pennsylvania passed on are booster seats, bicycle helmets, intimate partner violence, concussions, and prescription drug overdose/use.
Richard Hamburg, Deputy Director of Trust For America's Health, said Pennsylvania didn't do poorly, but didn't fare too well either. "Looking at the ten indicators where we compared policies that were implemented in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania met five out of those ten indicators."
Pennsylvania ranked 30th in injury-related deaths, with 59.4 per 100,000 people in 2011 and a lifetime total medial cost due to fatal injury of about $64.2 million.
New issues, such as bullying and texting while driving, are beginning to emerge and are expected to increase among teens and young adults as the baby boomer generation grows older. Hamburg said states are already beginning to take action. "We're already seeing public policies put in place to address things like bullying in schools and texting while driving."
The report also found that funding from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for injury prevention continues to slip at $0.28 per person. The spending has dropped roughly 24% from 2006. Hamburg said it is very important to recognize the impact of the issues at hand and allow for more funding.
"We also need to invest resources into continued research because without research, we can't continue to improve our safety strategies, violence prevention programs, and we can't learn how to best address emerging new threats," said Hamburg.
He added that states could improve by putting public policies into place as a result of clear data showing cause and effect. "I think it's public education, there's some personal responsibility, there's certainly a role of the family in schools, but government does have a role in removing some barriers and helping to reduce the incidents of injuries," he said.
Almost 50 million Americans are treated for injuries each year and more than 2.8 million are hospitalized. Approximately 12,000 children and teens die every year from injury-related deaths and about 9.2 million are treated in emergency rooms, according to the TFAH. Injuries generate about $406 billion each year for medical care and lost productivity.