Keep risk worries real!

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Here's more evidence that people tend to worry most about risks that are small or nonexistent, instead of paying attention to the risk factors that they can and should control: Injuries are actually the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of one and 44, and the third leading cause of death overall. However, according to a new study by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, not a single state has enacted all 10 injury prevention measures that were examined in the study. Meanwhile, about 50 million Americans are treated for injuries each year.

As study co-author Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy puts it, "These are common-sense measures that could prevent many injuries and save lives if people were aware of them and supportive of them." The egregiously overlooked prevention methods included mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, helmet laws for motorcycle riders and for children on bikes, and primary seat belt laws. California and New York, respectively, have enacted the largest number of these prevention measures, while neither Montana nor Ohio has enacted more than two of them. The safety measures were developed by a committee of injury-prevention experts from the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Prevention.

Looking over the numbers, ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan observes that people have inverted priorities. "People are continually frightened and concerned about trace amounts of chemicals that pose no danger to them," she says. "Yet they overlook these simple, obvious safety measures in their everyday lives that really can make a difference."

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