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Report: Arkansas Needs Tougher Laws to Prevent Deaths, Injuries

The number of preventable injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes and other types of accidents is on the rise, according to a report from the National Safety Council. (Caiaimage/GettyImages)
The number of preventable injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes and other types of accidents is on the rise, according to a report from the National Safety Council. (Caiaimage/GettyImages)
July 5, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A new study ranks Arkansas among the worst states in the country for protecting people from preventable injuries and deaths.

A National Safety Council report found that the number of fatalities from car crashes, falls, fires, drownings and drug overdoses - what it calls preventable deaths - is increasing rapidly in Arkansas and across the country. The council, which graded all 50 states on overall safety, didn't give any state an "A" but did give 11 - including Arkansas - an "F."

Tatyana Warrick, public-relations manager for the council, said it evaluated states in areas where strong public policies could do the most good.

"For the National Safety Council, the homes and community, workplaces and roads - those are the spaces where we work, those are the spaces where we advocate," she said, "and it's also the spaces where we see preventable injuries and deaths occurring, sometimes at alarming rates."

Warrick cautioned that the grades were not based on the actual number of deaths and injuries in a state, but on whether appropriate policies were in place to protect its citizens. The study found that Arkansas, which came in 43rd out of the 50 states, has regulations in place in just 19 of the 59 areas it deems critical to ensuring public safety.

Warrick said the survey found Arkansas had no laws protecting child passengers in vehicles, no common-sense gun-safety regulations, and provided appropriate protections in only three out of 11 workplace safety categories. She said the rankings are not meant to condemn states but to encourage officials to look at better regulations.

"We do know that this report provides just a snapshot in time, and a snapshot of the major issues where we know the biggest risk factors for people," she said. "So, it's not a comprehensive review of everything that the states do, but we hope that this provides a starting point for conversation."

The study found that, nationally, more than 146,000 people died last year from preventable accidents, a 7 percent increase over 2014. It also counted 40 million serious preventable injuries. The council said it will issue its "State of Safety" report every year to track progress in developing safety regulations.

The report is online at nsc.org.

Mark Richardson/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - AR