Cities Safer Than Small Towns: Deaths From Accidents 40 Percent Higher Outside Urban Landscape, Says Study [REPORT]
Cities are safer than small towns, a new study of mortality purports. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the further away you get from a busy cityscape, the more likely you are to die of an unintentional injury like an accidental shooting, car crash, fall or drowning. In fact, the risk of being killed by one of these things is 20 percent greater in a rural county than an urban one. That's a pretty good argument for why cities are safer than green pastures.
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"Contrary to popular belief, cities do happen to be the safest place you can live," lead study author Dr. Sage Myers, a pediatrician and researcher at Penn, told NBC News. Of course, homicide rates will always be higher in cities, but the number of homicide deaths in the country pales in comparison to the rate of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S. The fact is, more people die in car accidents in this country than from gunshot wounds.
"The rate of unintentional injury death is more than 15 times that of homicide among the entire population, with the risk resting heavily in rural areas such that the risk of unintentional injury death is 40 percent higher in the most rural counties compared with the most urban," the study says. The report, titled "Safety in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United States?," was published Tuesday in the Annals of Emergency Medicines.
Time reports that over the past 30 to 40 years, many American cities have become safer. Better policing, the removal of lead from the environment, and cracking down on the crack epidemic of the 1980s have all led to safer urban environments. "Even in Philadelphia, where the economy is still struggling and population has never recovered from the urban flight of the 1970s and '80s, there were 329 murders in 2012, down significantly from the worst years a couple of decades ago," Time reports.
Researchers who worked on the cities are safer study looked at death certificate information from across the country, analyzing 1.3 million deaths from injuries between 1999 and 2006 (although they left out deaths related to terrorism). Turns out, there's a 22 percent higher potential of injury related deaths in the most rural counties compared to urban ones.
This is most convincingly reflected in national crash death rates, which are the number one type of accidental death in the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the 50 most populous areas in the U.S. have lower crash death rates than the national average. "The rate for all ages in the 50 [most populous cities] was 8.2 deaths per 100,000 residents, lower than the national rate of 11.1 deaths per 100,000 residents," the CDC reports.
The most common cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease. The first non-disease related cause of death is accidents, which is number five on the list, accounts for 4.4 percent of all U.S. deaths. Homicide, on the other hand, ranks number 15 on the list of most common causes of death in the U.S.
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