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Firearm and motor vehicle injury mortality; variations by state, race, and ethnicity, United States, 1990-91
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  • Description:
    In 1991, motor vehicles were responsible for more injury deaths than any other cause of injury. Firearms were the second leading cause of injury death. Motor vehicle crash-and firearm-related injuries accounted for 55 percent of all injury deaths in the United States in 1991; 43,536 people died as the result of injuries sustained during motor vehicle crashes and 38,317 people died as the result of firearm-related injuries. From 19S0 through 1985, motor vehicle crash and firearm death rates decreased by 18 and 11 percent, respectively, From 1985 through 1991, the motor vehicle crash death rate continued to decrease (by 10 percent), whereas the death rate due to firearms increased by 14 percent. The more recent period, 1988 through 1991, was one of faster change for both causes of death the motor vehicle death rate declined 14 percent at an average annual rate of 4.8 percent per year, while the firearm death rate increased 9 percent at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent per year. If these recent trends (1988 through 1991) in motor vehicle crash and firearm mortality were to continue, firearms would displace motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury death in the United States by the mid-1990's. If predictions of when the crossover would occur were based upon longer term trends, for example, 1968 through 1991, firearm deaths would outnumber motor vehicle deaths by the year 2003. The Healthy People 2000 initiative includes objectives for reducing motor vehicle crash fatalities for persons of all ages, and in particular for persons 15-24 years of age, and for American Indian/ Alaskan Native persons (3). In addition, there are several objectives directed towards the reduction of homicide, suicide, and weapon-related violent death rates for all persons, and specifically for males 15-34 years of age, black persons, persons of Hispanic origin, and American Indian/Alaskan Native males. Recent increases in firearm mortality have been greatest among adolescents and young adults. From 1988 through 1991, the firearm death rate for persons 15-24 years increased 40 percent to 28.9 per 100,000 population, and the motor vehicle death rate declined 15 percent to 32.0 per 100,000 population. Also during this period, the firearm death rate for persons 25-34 years increased 8 percent to 22.1 per 100,000, and the motor vehicle death rate decreased 12 percent to 21.2 per 100,000. In 1991, the firearm death rate for persons 15-24 years of age was only 10 percent lower than the motor vehicle death rate, and at 25-34 years the firearm death rate exceeded the motor vehicle death rate by 4 percent (figure 1). Large racial differentials in firearm mortality have been previously reported for the white and black populations. Death rates for other racial and ethnic groups could not be estimated previously for non-Census years because age and State-specific intecensal population estimates (needed for estimates of the Hispanic population) were unavailable. In this report, numbers of firearm and motor vehicle deaths are compared within States for persons of all races in 1991, and within States for the non- Hispanic white, Hispanic, black, Asian and Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native (hereafter referred to, respectively, as Asian and American Indian) populations for 1990-91. The extent to which homicide and suicide contribute to firearm deaths is also examined for these groups. In addition, this report includes an analysis of State-, race-, and ethnic-specific firearm and motor vehicle death rates for persons 15-34 years of age. Includes bibliographical references (p. 4).
  • Content Notes:
    by Lois A. Fingerhut, Cheryl Jones, and Diane M. Makuc. January 27, 1994.
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