The Top 5 Leading Causes of Death by Injury in the United States (2007)

  Cause of Death Number of Deaths Percent of Total Deaths Death Rate
(age adjusted)
1 Motor-vehicle traffic accidents 42,031 23.0 % 15.2
per 100,000
2 Poisoning 40,059 22.0 % 13.1
per 100,000
3 Firearm injuries 31,224 17.1 % 10.2
per 100,000
4 Falls 23,443 12.8 % 7.3
per 100,000
5 Suffocation 14,930 8.18 % 4.9
per 100,000
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  1. A total of 182,479 deaths were classified as injury related in the United States in 2007. The four major mechanisms of injury in 2007 - motor-vehicle traffic, poisoning, firearms, and falls - accounted for 74.9 percent of all injury deaths. (a.)
  2. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. Adult seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes (b.). According to the CDC: adults age 18-34 are less likely to wear seat belts than adults 35 or older, men are 10% less likely to wear seat belts than women, adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely to wear seat belts (78% use) than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87% use), and seat belt use is lower in states with secondary enforcement seat belt laws or no seat belt laws (79%) compared to states with primary enforcement laws (88%). Motor Vehicle Traffic also accounted for 73% of deaths for teenagers in 2008 (a.). However the 4.2 percent decrease in the age-adjusted death rate for motor-vehicle traffic-related injuries-from 14.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2006 to 13.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2007 - is considered to be statistically significant (a.)
  3. According to the CDC, in 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Of the 1,347 traffic fatalities among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2008, about one out of every six (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver and of the 216 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2008, about half were riding in the vehicle with the with the alcohol-impaired driver. Over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in the United States in 2008. That is less than one percent of the 159 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year (b.)
  4. Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol (b.).
  5. According to the CDC, nearly 82 people die every day in the United States as a result of unintentional poisoning, and another 1,941 are treated in emergency departments across the country. In 2007, 29,846 (74 percent) of the 40,059 poisoning deaths in the United States were unintentional, and 3,770 (9 percent) were of undetermined intent. Unintentional poisoning death rates have been rising steadily since 1992. Unintentional poisoning was second only to motor vehicle crashes as a cause of unintentional injury death in 2007. Among people 35 to 54 years old, unintentional poisoning caused more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. Between 2004 and 2005, an estimated 71,000 children (<18 years of age) were seen in emergency departments each year because of medication poisonings (excluding abuse and recreational drug use). Over 80 percent were because an unsupervised child found and consumed medicines (c.).
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). "National Vital Statistics Report. Vol 58, Number 19." Retrieved Feb, 2011.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). "Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety. Fact Sheet" Retrieved Feb, 2011 from
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). "Injury Prevention & Control: Home and Recreational Safety. Poisoning in the United States: Fact Sheet." Retrieved Feb, 2011 from
Tags: Death Statistics, Health Statistics, Leading Causes of Death, The United States

Sources:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Vital Statistics Reports 2007. Vol 58, Number 19.

List Notes: Data is death by injury for the year 2007. Percentage of total deaths are deaths from injuries accidental, intentional or self-inflicted. Rate is deaths per 100,000 persons. The data for poisonings include drug-induced deaths from dependent and non-dependent use of legal or illegal drugs, and also poisoning from medically prescribed and other drugs.
Leading Causes of Death by Injury in the United States  <small>(2007)</small>

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