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Traffic crashes are the leading cause of injury death in most parts of the world and this issue's column focuses on a number of studies related to traffic injuries. In the USA, unintentional overdose deaths from prescription medications is on the verge of overtaking traffic crashes as the number one injury death. In several states, this change in injury mortality has already occurred. Overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers have tripled from 1999 to 2008. Sales of these products and related admissions for treatment have risen at similar rates. The Centers for Disease Control issued several products to draw attention to the increase in overdoses, including findings in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a ‘Vital Signs’ newsletter that includes policy action steps, and a public service announcement. Immediately following these releases, the American Public Health Association passed a policy statement encouraging better prescription monitoring, healthcare provider accountability and tighter diversion laws at state and federal levels.
▶ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers—United States, 1999–2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2011;60:1487–92.
Hasn't it been established already that graduated drivers licensing (GDL) programmes are a good idea? Yes, in New Zealand and in certain states, but not for the USA as a whole. GDL laws delay driving for some youth and introduce them more slowly to certain risks by limiting their exposure to night-time …