Firearms have overtaken car crashes as main cause of premature US trauma deaths


Staff member
Oct 7, 2008

Firearms have overtaken car crashes as the main cause of premature deaths due to trauma in the US since 2017, finds research published online in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.

In 2018 men made up more than 85% of premature firearm deaths, with firearm suicides highest in older white men, and firearm homicides highest in young black men.

Traumatic injuries remain the leading cause of death in the US for people up to the age of 46, with car crashes the single largest cause of premature death.

Firearm deaths, however, have been steadily increasing over the past decade, and the researchers wanted to find out if these have become the leading cause of premature death associated with trauma.

They analysed data from annual National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR) for the years 2009 to 2018, the latest year for which data were available, and death certificates for each of the US states.

A database of firearm-related deaths was generated using these annual reports, while potential years of life lost were calculated by subtracting the age at death from the standard age of 80.

These firearm deaths were further stratified according to age, gender, injury intent, and geographical region—North, South, Midwest, and West—and compared with those for car crashes.

During the study period, the total 10-year cumulative years of potential life lost for car crashes and firearms added up to 12.9 million and 12.6 million, respectively.

But firearm deaths surpassed those of car crashes as the leading cause of traumatic death in 2017, with 1.44 million years of potential life lost compared to 1.37 million.

This trend continued into 2018, with 83,037 more potential years of life lost attributed to firearms than to car crashes.