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State. No. 1 – in accidental deaths

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By The Staff

Well, we did it again. We are number one.But few of us would want to be on the top of this list. According to an Associated Press report, New Mexico has ended up on the wrong end of statistics again, ranking first in the nation in the rate of deaths from accidental injuries between 1999 and 2004.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a report on accidental deaths nationwide with an eye toward tracking how well states are doing in meeting goals under the federal government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative.That effort aims to reduce the rate of accidental deaths to 17.5 per 100,000 population from a starting point of 35 per 100,000 in 1998, and reduce the rate of deaths from motor vehicle crash injuries from to 9.2 per 100,000 from the 1998 rate of 15.6.But it seems we missed that effort.Over the six-year period, New Mexico’s death rate from accidents rose 17 percent for an annual average of 60.9, the highest in the nation.Traffic deaths accounted for 41 percent of all accidental deaths from 1999 to 2004 nationwide; poisonings, including drug overdoses, accounted for 15.5 percent and falls made up 15 percent, the CDC said.New Mexico has a high rate of all three. In 2004, the state ranked No. 4 in the nation for crash deaths and No. 2 in both poisonings and falls.The national rate for accidental deaths rose 7 percent for an annual average of 36.3.The CDC statistics are no surprise, but reports say the stats “are a cause for alarm.”This is an understatement.Substance abuse is a common factor in deaths from crashes and poisoning; poverty can contribute to falls because people who are poor are more likely to live in homes with more hazards, it was reported.Of course, our high drunken driving rate and its high rate of drug overdoses are well known and don’t help the situation.New laws are not the answer, just some tougher enforcement of our existing DWI laws and some better public education efforts.