The National Safety Council has been compiling and reporting on injury data every year since the 1920s. The table below was prepared in response to frequent inquiries to the Council concerning the odds of dying from or being killed by a specific incident or occurrence such as a lightning strike or a plane crash.
The odds given below are statistical averages over the whole U.S. population and do not necessarily reflect the chances of death for a particular person from a particular external cause. Any individual’s odds of dying from various external causes are affected by the activities in which they participate, where they live and drive, what kind of work they do, and other factors.
The table has four columns. The first column gives the manner of injury such as motor-vehicle crash, fall, fire, etc. The second column gives the total number of deaths nationwide due to the manner of injury in 2004 (the latest year for which data are available). The third column gives the odds of dying in one year due to the manner of injury. The fourth column gives the lifetime odds of dying from the manner of injury.
Statements about the odds or chances of dying from a given cause of death may be made as follows:
The odds of dying from (manner of injury) in 2004 were 1 in (value given in the one-year odds column). The life-time odds of dying from (manner of injury) for a person born in 2004 were 1 in (value given in the lifetime odds column).
For example, referring to the first line of the table below:
The odds of dying from an injury in 2004 were 1 in 1,756. The lifetime odds of dying from an injury for a person born in 2004 were 1 in 23.
Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. Deaths are classified on the basis of the Tenth Revision of the World Health Organization’s “The International Classification of Diseases” (ICD). Numbers following titles refer to External Cause of Morbidity and Mortality classifications in ICD-10. One year odds are approximated by dividing the 2004 population (293,656,842) by the number of deaths. Lifetime odds are approximated by dividing the one-year odds by the life expectancy of a person born in 2004 (77.9 years).