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A comparative study of the injury rates in different states published in May could have an impact on safety laws across the country.
The study, performed by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looked at overall injury rates in each state. Injury is the leading cause of death among people aged 1 to 44 and the third highest cause of death overall. With numbers like that, it's important to keep yourself injury free.
The study also looked at whether states had implemented any of the 10 most important injury-prevention measures identified by top injury-prevention experts, reports USA Today.
No state has yet approved every measure but some states have implemented as many as nine. Then again, other states put only a few into practice.
According to the study, the states with the highest injury-related death rates were New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.
When it came to high injury-related deaths, the number of deaths didn't always match up with the states that had the fewest injury-prevention measures. New Mexico which had the highest injury-related death rate had also implemented seven of the safety measures.
Then again Montana had only implemented two and had the second highest injury-related death rate.
Some of the identified injury-prevention laws mandate common sense activities such as wearing helmets on bikes and motorcycles, using a car seat for children, and mandating seat belts. Others seem more punitive such as mandatory ignition locks for convicted drunk drivers.
Still others deal with youth safety including concussion safety laws and teen dating violence laws.
The study's authors advocate that all states should adopt these laws, but the decision to do that isn't always easy. Implementing new laws means enforcement and that can be hard while city and state governments struggle to stay in the black with existing programs.
Another issue is balancing personal choice with public safety.
On one side is the argument that governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens. On the other is the point that government interference can decrease personal freedom.
Not all the news is negative since some states scored particularly well in the study. New Jersey leads the pack with the lowest number of injury-related deaths with New York and Massachusetts close behind.