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  • Epidemiology and Injury Prevention

    • Injury is the fifth overall leading cause of death in the United States, preceded only by heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic respiratory diseases.1
    • More than 2.8 million people are hospitalized with injury each year. 2
    • More than 180,000 deaths from injury occur each year; meaning, approximately one person dies from injury every three minutes.2
    • Injury is the leading cause of death in persons aged 1-34 years. 3
    • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons aged 5-34, claiming the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each year.3
    • More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers are treated in Emergency Departments for injury each year. 3
    • Adult seatbelt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in automobile crashes. 6
    • Seatbelt use reduces the likelihood of serious injury in a crash by approximately 50%.6
    • Helmet use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in motorcycle crashes.
    • Helmets are estimated to prevent 37% of fatal motorcycle injures.5
    • Homicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds, and claims more than 8,500 lives each year.3
    • Among those age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury related death.3
    • Injuries in 2005 accounted for $406 billion in medical and work loss costs.4

    Trauma Centers

    • A trauma center is a hospital with resources and equipment needed to care for severely injured patients.
    • Trauma centers are designated by state government agencies as Level I to Level IV depending on the types of resources available.
    • CDC-supported research shows a 25% reduction in deaths for severely injured patients who receive care at a Level I trauma center rather than at a non-trauma center.
    • A trauma center may seek additional verification by The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACSCOT), ensuring accredited centers have the resources necessary for delivering care as outlined in Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient
    • The ACSCOT strives to improve all phases of care of the injured patient through the development of standards, educational programs and the assessment of patient outcomes.
    • A trauma system is an organized, coordinated effort in a defined geographic area that delivers the full range of care to all injured patients and is integrated with the local public health system.

    1. Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Murphy SL, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final data for 2007. National vital statistics reports; vol 58 no 19. Hyattsville, MD:

    National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.

    2.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). National hospital discharge survey: 2007 summary. National health statistics reports, no. 29. Atlanta, GA: NCHS; 2010.

    3.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online] (2007) [cited 2011 Mar 4]. Available from URL:

    4.National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Lives saved in 2009 by restraint use and minimum-drinking-age laws. Washington, D.C.: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 2010. Publication no. DOT-HS-811-383. 


    6.  Finkelstein EA, Corso PS, Miller TR, Associates. Incidence and economic burden of injuries in the United States. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2006

    7.National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Final regulatory impact analysis amendment to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208. Passenger car front seat occupant protection. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 1984. Publication no. DOT-HS-806-572.

     Author: Jennifer Smith, MD (2011)

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