Americans more likely to die from opioid overdose than in a car accident

By Ashley Welch

/ CBS News

Fentanyl overdose deaths sykrocket

For the first time on record, Americans are more likely to die of an accidental opioid overdose than in a motor vehicle crash, according to a new report from the National Safety Council.

The group calculates that the chance of dying from an opioid overdose has increased to 1 in 96, surpassing the odds of dying in a car accident, at 1 in 103. It's also greater than the odds of dying from a fall, a gun assault, pedestrian accident, or drowning.

"The opioid crisis remains an abstract issue for many people; they still believe it will not happen to them, or it isn't a risk facing them or their family," Maureen Vogel, spokeswoman for the National Safety Council, told CBS News. "These numbers show the gravity of the problem our country is facing. We need to reprioritize and regroup, because all these deaths are preventable."

Each day more than 130 Americans die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report finding the number of drug overdose deaths among middle-aged women skyrocketed between 1999 and 2017, with opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, being the main driver. Deaths from prescription and illicit opioids in children and teens also tripled over the same time period, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open.

Data reported last year showed drug overdoses killed more Americans in 2016 than the Vietnam War, with three-quarters of those deaths caused by opioids.

The National Safety Council recommends a number of steps for tackling the problem of opioid misuse: increasing access to addiction treatment; making naloxone (also known as Narcan), a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose, more readily available; and increasing training in pain-management for opioid prescribers.

How opioid overdose deaths plunged 31 percent in one Ohio county

Overall, heart disease and cancer continue to be the leading causes of death for Americans — accounting for 1 in 6 and 1 in 7 deaths, respectively. But the report also found that falls are killing more Americans than ever before. The lifetime risk of dying from an accidental fall are now 1 in 114, up from 1 in 119 just a year ago.

"These numbers underscore that too many Americans worry about the wrong things," Vogel said. "We tend to fret over headline-grabbing catastrophes like plane crashes and earthquakes, and those are terrifying incidents. But when it comes to everyday, routine activities, the odds are not in our favor."

The risk of death from other types of much-feared disasters are much lower, the report found. For example, the odds of dying in a cataclysmic storm are 1 in 31,394, while the chances of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 188,364.

The report notes that the odds calculated are statistical averages over the whole U.S. population and do not necessarily reflect the chances of death for a particular person. A person's individual risk of dying from various causes is, of course, affected by factors such as where they live and drive, the activities in which they participate, and the kind of work they do.

First published on January 14, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ashley Welch

Ashley Welch covers health and wellness for CBSNews.com

Twitter

Americans more likely to die from opioids than a car crash

A new report from the National Safety Council sheds light on the most common causes of accidental death in the U.S.

updated 1M ago

Lady Gaga and Glenn Close tie for Best Actress

Gaga and Close were not the only two nominees to tie and share a win at the Critics' Choice Awards

updated 25M ago

Texas canines contain DNA of red wolves declared extinct in 1980

The animal was declared extinct in the wild nearly 40 years ago

updated 36M ago

L.A. superintendent says he agrees with teachers' demands

The Los Angeles teachers' union is trading chalkboards for picket signs, striking amid a funding battle

1H ago

Paul to have surgery in Canada due to injuries sustained during assault

The Kentucky senator was attacked by a neighbor while doing yard work at his Kentucky home

1H ago

Paul to have surgery in Canada due to injuries sustained during assault

The Kentucky senator was attacked by a neighbor while doing yard work at his Kentucky home

1H ago

Trump slams Democrats for "celebrating" shutdown in Puerto Rico

A congressional delegation is visiting the island to meet with local officials and host fundraising events

2H ago

Science gets shut down along with the federal government

Scientists and engineers across the country – indeed, across the globe – rely on information that's ground to a halt during the shutdown

2H ago

Barr: It's "vitally important" that Mueller finish Russia probe

Trump's attorney general nominee testifies at his confirmation hearings this week

updated 11M ago

Governors sworn in in Georgia, Kansas, Alabama and Ohio

Ceremonies are taking place today for Republican Brian Kemp of Georgia, Democrat Laura Kelly of Kansas, Republican Kay Ivey of Alabama and Republican Mike DeWine of Ohio.

3H ago

Lion Air plane crash: Cockpit voice recorder found

Indonesian official also says human remains were discovered at the seabed location

3H ago

Amid row over Huawei exec, China sentences Canadian man to death

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concerned China has decided "arbitrarily" re-sentence man already serving drug trafficking sentence

3H ago

Canadian air traffic controllers send pizza to unpaid U.S. counterparts

Official says cross-border solidarity began with local effort in Edmonton but spread quickly, and now hundreds of pizzas have been delivered

6H ago

Pompeo defends Trump's Twitter threat to Turkey over Kurds

Secretary of State says he's yet to speak with Trump or Turks about president's threat to "devastate Turkey economically" if it attacks allies in Syria

7H ago

Pompeo asks Saudi royals for unity against Iran, "facts" on Khashoggi

Top U.S. diplomat cancels final stop in Kuwait on his tour of Middle East allies to come home after a death in his family

8H ago

Lady Gaga and Glenn Close tie for Best Actress

Gaga and Close were not the only two nominees to tie and share a win at the Critics' Choice Awards

updated 25M ago

An egg just became the most-liked Instagram post

Kylie Jenner has responded in the feud with the egg

1H ago

Katherine Schwarzenegger engaged to Chris Pratt: "So happy you said yes!"

A whirlwind romance is leading to an engagement for actor Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger

1H ago

How Dave Matthews gives back to his hometown of Charlottesville

The musician's band is rebuilding public housing in the Virginia city where they started performing three decades ago

1H ago

HBO's "Game of Thrones" season 8 premiere date set

Winter is coming — and now fans know when

15H ago

Texas canines contain DNA of red wolves declared extinct in 1980

The animal was declared extinct in the wild nearly 40 years ago

updated 36M ago

Science gets shut down along with the federal government

Scientists and engineers across the country – indeed, across the globe – rely on information that's ground to a halt during the shutdown

2H ago

An egg just became the most-liked Instagram post

Kylie Jenner has responded in the feud with the egg

1H ago

SpaceX plans to lay off about 10 percent of workforce

"This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead," the company said

21H ago

Oceans are warming dramatically faster, new study warns

Since 1970, the ocean has warmed 40 percent more than previous estimates, scientists say

Jan 11

Americans more likely to die from opioids than a car crash

A new report from the National Safety Council sheds light on the most common causes of accidental death in the U.S.

updated 1M ago

Parents charged after 3-year-old girl with 17-pound tumor dies

The parents of an Oklahoma girl, 3, who died from cancer with a 17-pound tumor are accused of failing to provide medical care

2H ago

New school lunch rules could mean more salt, sugar and fat

The Trump administration begins rollbacks on Obama-era initiatives for healthier school lunches, giving the dairy industry a bigger presence in U.S. cafeterias

1H ago

Judge blocks Trump birth control coverage rules in 13 states, D.C.

Issues preliminary injunction against rules that would let more employers opt out of providing women with free birth control

9H ago

Facility where vegetative woman gave birth hires ex-attorney to lead probe

Rick Romley, former Maricopa County attorney, will be in charge of "exhaustive" internal review of Hacienda HealthCare's operations and procedures

13H ago

More than 30,000 teachers on strike in Los Angeles

Educators in U.S.' second-biggest school system walk picket lines for first time in nearly 30 years after talks falter

updated 45M ago

China's trade gap with U.S. hits record $323 billion

Despite Trump administration's tougher stance, China's trade surplus with the U.S. continues to grow

3H ago

World markets slide on slowing Chinese export data

Wall Street looks set to follow suit in Monday trading as investors grow wary again about global growth

5H ago

What does Eddie Lampert really want with Sears?

The hedge fund investor insists he just wants to rescue this bankrupt retailer — but his record raises questions

5H ago

Facing massive wildfire liability, PG&E seeks bankruptcy protection

California's biggest power company faces billions in potential liability over its role in recent California wildfires

4H ago

Women rescued from hostage situation at UPS facility

Man who took women hostage shot during rescue, county prosecutor says

1H ago

Elizabeth Smart on how Jayme Closs can move forward

The child safety activist, who was herself abducted in 2002, talks about steps to recovery for Wisconsin teen who was held captive for three months

4H ago

Woman who found abducted girl says she named the suspect right away

When the young kidnapping victim escaped the Wisconsin cabin where she'd been held, she ran into Jeanne Nutter, who used her child protection skills to get the girl to safety

6H ago

Facility where vegetative woman gave birth hires ex-attorney to lead probe

Rick Romley, former Maricopa County attorney, will be in charge of "exhaustive" internal review of Hacienda HealthCare's operations and procedures

13H ago

Polish mayor fatally stabbed on stage at charity event

An ex-convict rushed the stage during the event in Gdansk and stabbed Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, shouting about political revenge

5H ago