Aviation Injuries Take 750 Lives a Year in U.S.

December 1, 2009

About 1,000 people are hospitalized with aviation-related injuries in the United States each year and about 750 are killed, according to a report released Tuesday.

About a third are injured in private aircraft and another 29 percent are hurt or killed while parachuting, according to the report from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

This compares to 2.35 million motor vehicle injuries and 37,000 deaths in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Our findings provide valuable information, not previously available, on the number and kinds of injuries sustained in aviation-related events,” Susan Baker, a professor at the school’s Injury Center, said in a statement.

“Because many injuries can be prevented through changes in the structure of aircraft, these data should be used to recognize needed improvements in aircraft design,” she added.

“For example, the high numbers of lower limb fractures suggest modifications should be considered to the various structures likely to be contacted by the feet and legs when a crash occurs.”

Writing in the December issue of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, the researchers said they analyzed data from government statistics on hospital admissions.

“Unlike the highly effective surveillance system for all aviation crashes and incidents in the military, there is no formal injury reporting structure for civil aviation crashes,” said Dr. Dennis Shanahan, who worked on the study.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Alan Elsner)

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