The National Safety Council is recognized as one of the most reliable sources of information about accidental injuries. The council annually compiles data and information on accidents. From the most recent edition of Accident Facts comes the following information:
1. Disasters are front-page news even though the lives lost in the United States are relatively few when compared to the day-to-day losses from ordinary accidents. These major disasters took 25 or more lives in the United States during 1987:- Apartment building collapse during construction, 28 deaths.
- Tornado in Saragosa, Texas, 30 deaths.
- Plane crash in Detroit, 156 deaths.
- Plane crash in Denver, 28 deaths.
2. Occupational back injuries account for at least 20 percent of all occupational injury cases. According to reports from 19 states, back injuries account for about 22 percent of all reported or compensated work injuries. Applying this percentage to the National Safety Council estimate of total disabling work injuries, this means that about 400,000 disabling back injuries occur at work each year. Average costs per back injury for workers' compensation cases were estimated at $4,489 in wage compensation and $1,581 in medical payments.
3. According to a 19-city observation survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver restraint (seat belt) use in the United States was estimated to be 42 percent in December 1987, up from 39 percent in December 1986. In 1982, only 11 percent of the drivers observed in the survey were using safety belts. While the increased use in 1987 compared with 1982 is significant, more than half of the drivers in the United States still are not using safety belts. Child safety seat use was estimated at 80 percent for 1987, 76 percent in 1986, and 23 percent in 1982.
4. Motor-vehicle deaths occur more frequently in rural areas, but injuries occur more often in urban locations.
5. Motor-vehicle deaths are much higher at night. In both urban and rural places, the mileage death rates at night are almost three times the day rates.
6. Motor-vehicle death totals vary greatly for different days of the week and different months of the year. Above average numbers occur from Friday through Sunday and during the latter part of the year.
7. Motor-vehicle deaths are at their lowest in January and February. Deaths increase to their highest levels in August and remain at this general level through the end of the year.
8. The most common cause of fires in one- and two-family dwellings is heating equipment (more than one-third of the total), followed by cooking, incendiary and suspicious electrical distribution, smoking, and appliances. For injury-producing fires, however, the most common scenario involves smoking materials igniting upholstery at night.
9. Use of home smoke detectors has been very effective in reducing residential fire deaths. However, since use reached its peak in 1984, there has been no growth in the number of houses that have detectors. In addition, recent studies estimate that one-third of home smoke detectors are no longer operational.
10. Bicycles account for 564,421 hospital emergency room-treated cases.