Accidental deaths in the United States have reached a record high, according to a new report. Leading causes of accidental deaths include falls and fatal drug overdoses.

The National Safety Council (NSC) found the number of Americans dying of accidents, including unintentional overdoses, has increased in recent years. During 2014, a total of 136,000 Americans died from accidental causes, an increase of 4.2 percent over the previous year. Over the 10 years previous to the latest one recorded in the study, accidental deaths rose by 15.5 percent. This averages out to one accidental death every four minutes across the United States.

"Every individual has the opportunity to make choices to keep themselves safe. It's all preventable. Every accident is preventable, but it's not necessarily the [fault] of the victim," Ken Kolosh, director of the (NSC) said.

The 42,000 Americans who perished from overdoses and accidental poisonings are now greater than the number of people who died in traffic accidents. Traffic fatalities have been reduced in recent years by changes in licensing requirements for teenagers, as well as improved safety features in cars. Because of these changes, far fewer youth are dying on roads, compared to fatality rates in 1981.

Fatal falls have become far more common in recent years, totaling almost 32,000 in 2014, compared with fewer than 10,000 in 1992. Researchers believe that an aging American population is the underlying cause of increased deaths from falling. Senior citizens are at far greater risk of dying when they fall than younger people.

"In 2013, unintentional injuries were the eighth leading cause of death among U.S. adults aged 65 and over, resulting in nearly 46,000 deaths," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated on its website.

Heart disease remains the most common form of death in the United States, taking the lives of more than 614,000 people annually. Cancer takes the lives of nearly 592,000 Americans annually, placing that class of disease as the second leading cause of death in the United States. Medical errors have now risen to no. 3 on the list of most common causes of death. Behind accidental deaths, stroke comes in as the no. 4 killer with 133,100 fatalities annually, while Alzheimer's disease rounds out the top 5, taking the lives of more than 93,500 Americans each year, the CDC reports.

Researchers stress this new study does not implicate Americans as clumsy, but that this report undermines the need to increase awareness of safety issues around the country.

Image: Ryan Melaugh | Flickr

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