Press Room

State Public Health Leaders Urged to Increase Efforts to Prevent Injuries

Arlington, VA (June 27, 2017) – State public health leaders responded to a new “The State of Safety” report released by the National Safety Council today showing that every state has work to do to enhance safety measures for its residents.

“The fact that not a single state received an overall ‘A’ rating in the report demonstrates that we have an urgent and continued need to prevent injuries and address a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States,” says Michael Fraser, executive director of ASTHO. “As the debate over healthcare continues, we have to ask ourselves whether or not we have invested appropriately in public health efforts to prevent injuries in the first place versus treating the impact of injury and violence through the healthcare delivery system.”

While state and territorial health department injury and violence prevention programs work to promote and engage people in making safety behaviors to prevent injuries and violence before they occur, three areas identified in the report must be further addressed:

  • Road Safety: Vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, are particularly at risk. Approximately 4,500 people a year are killed in motorcycle-related crashes, and another 90,000 are injured. Mandatory helmet laws, speed limits, and laws requiring motorists to stop when pedestrians are in the roadway are needed across states to reduce fatalities and injuries.
  • Home and Community Safety: More than 70 percent of preventable injury deaths occur in homes and communities. Poisonings, suicides, and falls are the biggest threats to our safety, as well as drownings and home fire deaths. According to the report, the major culprit in drug-related deaths is opioid pain relievers.
  • Workplace Safety: In 2015, almost 5,000 workers were killed and over 12,000 were injured each day. Transportation related deaths pose the greatest danger for workers. States can make the workplace safer by adopting drug- and smoke-free policies, implementing workplace violence policies, and offering occupational safety and health programs – including transportation safety policies and programs.

“All Americans ought to have the opportunity to grow up and live safe and healthy lives. State health department injury and violence prevention programs play an essential role in providing leadership and support to ensure this vital work. The findings from this report reinforce the value of these efforts and highlight the grave need for consistent and continued investments in injury and violence prevention programs across the country,” says Amber Williams, executive director of the Safe States Alliance, a national organization representing injury prevention leaders in local, state, and territorial health agencies.

ASTHO’s Executive Director added, “ASTHO and the Safe States Alliance are committed to partnering to advance the vital efforts of state and territorial health department injury and violence prevention programs. The National Safety Council’s report provides thoughtful insight into where states are succeeding in this regard and future steps they can take to further strengthen this work. I don’t think the issue is the will or interest in preventing injuries, I think the issue is having enough resource to truly move the needle on injury prevention in major ways across the country.”

Preventable injuries, such as those due to falls, motor vehicle crashes, opioid drug overdoses, or incidents in the workplace, are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1-44. The critical need for greater investments in prevention cannot be overstated; one person dies every three minutes due to injuries and violence, and the total lifetime costs of injuries and violence sustained in a single year amount to $671 billion in medical and work loss expenses.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.

The Safe States Alliance is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and professional association whose mission is to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention. Founded in 1993, the Safe States Alliance is the only national non-profit organization comprised of public health injury prevention professionals representing all states and territories in the United States.