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Injury-related deaths highest in New Mexico, says study


(CBS News) New Mexico residents, be warned: New statistics show that the state has the highest rate of injury-related deaths in the country at 97.8 fatalities per 100,000 people.

A new report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called "The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy" ranks states on injury safety by the number of injury-related deaths and the number of laws put in place that can prevent these catastrophes from happening.

Which states aren't doing their utmost to protect their residents from injuries? According to the report, the states that scored the lowest on injury prevention goes to Ohio and Montana.

Researchers determined if states met criteria for 10 laws and regulations that can prevent common injuries, including legislation on seat belts, drunk driving, motorcycle or bicycle helmets, booster seats, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, concussions, prescription drug monitoring programs and "ecodes" (injury codes that help track emergency room trends to guide prevention strategies). Montana and Ohio only had two of the 10 on the books.

Montana only has laws allowing people in dating relationships to get protection orders, and they have an active prescription drug monitoring program. Ohio, on the other hand, requires children to use booster seats until the age of 8 and also keeps an active prescription drug monitoring program.

"Seat belts, helmets, drunk driving laws and a range of other strong prevention policies and initiatives are reducing injury rates around the country," Amber Williams, Executive Director of the Safe States Alliance said in the press release. "However, we could dramatically bring down rates of injuries from motor vehicles, assaults, falls, fires and a range of other risks even more if more states adopted, enforced and implemented proven policies. Lack of national capacity and funding are major barriers to states adopting these and other policies."

According to the press release, 50 million Americans are medically treated for injuries each year, and more than 2.8 million are hospitalized. Seat belts on their own have saved an estimated 69,000 lives from 2006 to 2010, the report found, and motorcycle helmets have saved an estimated 8,000 lives between 2005 to 2009.

Scarily, 29 states do not require children to wear bicycle helmets. Thirty-four states do not require a mandatory ignition interlock for people who have drunk driving conviction, and 31 states do not require motorcycle helmets for riders. Eighteen states do not have primary seat belt laws that allow police to issue a ticket to someone not wearing a seat belt without a secondary traffic offense.

And, according to 2010 data that researchers used from Break the Cycle, an organization dedicated to ending youth domestic violence, 44 states scored a "B" or lower when it came to laws protecting minors from dating violence. For example, in Virginia - which scored an F - a judge can only issue a protective order if there has been physical abuse. Stalking, harassment and sexual abuse is not specifically listed, but may be recognized as a reason on a case by case basis.

Which states deserve a round of applause for protecting their citizens? According to the report, California and New York scored a nine out of 10 for having the most of the injury-prevention measures in place. New Jersey had the least injury-related deaths with only 36.1 deaths per 1,000 people,

Visit Trust for America's Health to see where your state ranked.

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