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Americans more likely to die from opioid overdose today than car accident

Key Points
  • The group analyzed preventable injuries and deaths in 2017 and found the odds of dying by accidental opioid overdose to be 1 in 96 and the odds of a motor vehicle crash 1 in 103.
  • On average, 130 Americans die each day after overdosing on opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Preventable injuries are the third leading cause of death, according to the report.
Opioid prescription drugs
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Americans are more likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses today than from car crashes, according to a study released Monday from the National Safety Council.

The group analyzed preventable injuries and deaths in 2017 and found the odds of dying by accidental opioid overdose to be 1 in 96 and the odds of a motor vehicle crash 1 in 103. The lifetime odds of death by suicide, however, remain higher at 1 in 88.

"Many of our fears are misplaced, and we tend to worry about the wrong things, like plane crashes and earthquakes," said Maureen Vogel, spokesperson for the NSC. "Those are definitely terrifying events, but they're very rare and unlikely to impact someone over the course of a lifetime."

Americans should be more mindful of risks that come with everyday activities, said Vogel.

The odds of dying from an accidental overdose are also higher than the odds of dying from falls (1 in 114), drowning (1 in 1,117), choking (1 in 2,696), gun assaults (1 in 285) and pedestrian incidents (1 in 556).

On average, 130 Americans die each day after overdosing on opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, 70,237 deaths were caused due to drug overdoses, with opioids being the main cause, according to another CDC report from last December.

The CDC also reported the national life expectancy rate is going down as the number of fatal opioid overdoses rise, with those born in 2017 expected to live to be 78.6 years old. Babies born in 2016 have a 1.2 month higher life expectancy.

"(The study) illustrates the opioid crisis in a way that people can look at it," Vogel said. She added it's a way for consumers to be conscious and make necessary changes.

The NSC noted the study is a composite of statistical averages divided by the U.S. population and doesn't show the chances of death for a particular person. Odds are affected by a person's external activities, such as where they live, drive and work.

Additionally, they're lifetime odds, which are calculated by dividing the life expectancy of a person born in 2017.

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Shamard Charles, M.D.