Many of you are probably aware that I attended and graduated from Rutgers Medical School. When I was there, Rutgers was a very young start-up medical school attached to a prestigious old university named Rutgers. Since my graduation, the school received a major endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation (RWJF) of Johnson and Johnson fame. Since then, they have changed the name from Rutgers to—you guessed it—the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. In addition to funding my alma mater, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports a lot of health policy research. My interest in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation brings us to today’s memo.
I recently read about a new policy study that was supported by the RWJF, which took a close look at various state laws with respect to child and adult safety. The report is called: “The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report.” After grading each state on the strength of their laws, the researchers overlaid this data on the actual accident rates each state has suffered in the recent past. Did they find that states with strong safety laws had lower accidental injury rates…? You bet they did. While the correlation is not perfect, I think you will see if you look at their data that states with strong safety laws tend to have less accidental injury. The strictest laws are found in California and New York, and they have the lowest rates of accidents. The weakest laws are found in Montana, Ohio, Idaho, Kentucky, North and South Dakota, and South Carolina. All these states scored in either the worst or next to worst accident rates.
The point is that accident prevention, either by parents or by state legislatures, does make a difference in protecting both children and adults from accidental injury. Enforcing seatbelt, helmet, drunk driving, sports safety, and dating violence laws do have a positive impact on our health. Yes, these laws do encroach on some personal freedoms, but in my opinion this is a small price to pay when we are talking about protecting our children, neighbors, and fellow citizens from serious harm. Take a little time to copy and past the link below and browse the report. I think you will be glad you did.