In the United States, accidents are the fourth leading cause of death among persons of all ages, and they form the leading cause of death among all persons aged I to 38. Although they dropped in 1971 to the lowest level since 1964 (reaching a mortality rate of about 55.5 per 100,000 population), accidents were responsible for an estimated 114,500 deaths, more than twice the number of U.S. fatalities recorded for the Vietnam War between 1961 and 1971. Nonfatal injuries in 1970 totaled an estimated 10 million, and the cost of all accidents in that year has been set at $27 billion. In Canada, there is a roughly comparable situation. 1968 figures show accidents as the third leading cause of death for persons of allages, and as the primary cause in the age group 20 to 44.
Accident statistics in the United States are grouped by the National Safety Council into four major categories: motor-vehicle accidents, accidents, work accidents, home and public accidents (all non-motor- vehicle and nonwork accidents occurring in public places). An accident causing five or more deaths is listed as a catastrophe, and such happenings as floods and tornadoes fall into the category of natural catastrophes.