How States Rate in Preventing Home, Auto, Work Accidents

No state goes far enough to protect its residents from leading causes of preventable deaths and injuries – commonly known as “accidents” – on the road, in homes and communities and at work, according to the National Safety Council. Despite preventable deaths being at an all-time high, none of the 50 states or Washington, D.C., earned an “A” for overall safety on the NSC’s latest report, The State of Safety, which assesses each state on how well it is protecting citizens from risk.

Seven states – Maryland, Illinois, Maine, Oregon, Connecticut, California and Washington – and Washington, D.C., received a “B” overall.

Eleven states received the worst grade, an “F” – Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Mississippi, Idaho and Missouri.

According to the report, fatalities from poisonings – including drug overdoses – motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and fires have increased 7 percent since 2014, claiming 146,571 lives each year.

The report says that in addition to the human costs, preventable injuries cost society more than $850 billion each year. “Most Americans worry more about headline-grabbing tragedies rather than common, everyday events like car crashes, falls and prescription drug overdoses that take hundreds of lives each day,” the report says.

“The cultural Novocaine has to wear off,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Safety is no accident.”

Hersman said the report provides states with a blueprint for lawmakers, civic leaders, public health professionals and safety advocates to make their communities safer.

According to the report, states overall do the worst in safety in homes and communities, where nearly three-quarters of all preventable deaths and injuries occur. They do the best in workplace safety.

The report assesses an overall grade based on states’ laws, policies and regulations around issues that lead to the most preventable deaths and injuries. It also grades states in three areas: road safety (alcohol impaired driving, child passenger safety, distracted driving, older drivers, seat belts, speeding, teen drivers, pedestrian safety and helmets for bike and motorcycle helmets); home and community safety (drownings, firearms, home fires, older adult falls, poisonings and youth sports concussions) and workplace safety (safety and health prevention programs and their enforcement, maximum workers’ compensation benefits, and worker health and well-being including wellness and drug-free workplace laws.

The five highest and lowest scoring states for road safety are:

Highest Lowest
Illinois Wyoming
Louisiana Arizona
Washington, D.C. Missouri
Delaware South Dakota
Maine Montana

The five highest and lowest scoring states for home and community safety are:

Highest Lowest
Maryland Utah
Connecticut Missouri
California Idaho
New Mexico South Carolina
Massachusetts Mississippi

The five highest and lowest scoring states for workplace safety are:

Highest Lowest
Illinois Missouri
Washington South Dakota
Colorado Idaho
Minnesota Wyoming
Washington, D.C. Kansas

In rating the states on workers’ compensation alone, the report looked at the maximum length of benefits in weeks for temporary disability and permanent disability as well as the maximum weekly benefit for permanent disability. States that graded the best in workers’ compensation are Washington, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire and the District of Columbia. The states rated the worst are California, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through research, education and advocacy.