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Drugs a Bigger Killer Than Auto Accidents

Drugs a Bigger Killer Than Auto Accidents



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Atlanta » In 16 states and counting, drugs now kill more people than auto accidents do, the government said Wednesday.

Experts said the startling shift reflects two opposite trends: Driving is becoming safer, and the legal and illegal use of powerful prescription painkillers is on the rise.

For decades, traffic accidents have been the biggest cause of injury-related death in the U.S., and they are still No. 1. But drug overdoses are pulling ahead in one state after another.

"People see a car accident as something that might happen to them," said Margaret Warner, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But as for death from a drug overdose, "maybe they see it as something that's not going happen to them."

The drug-related death rate roughly doubled from the late 1990s to 2006, according to the most recent CDC data.

The number of states in which drug-related deaths have overtaken traffic fatalities has gone from eight in 2003 to 12 in 2005, and 16 in 2006. They are: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The Associated Press

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