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Utah celebrates 30 years of preventing injuries

Published November 14, 2013 10:43 pm

Health • Milestones include seat-belt laws and rape hotline.
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Utah's Department of Health on Thursday celebrated the 30th anniversary of its injury prevention program, one of the first five such efforts in the nation.

Children were its first focus.

"Our first project was figuring out where, when, how, and why students got hurt at school," said program manager Trisha Keller in a statement. "We would then use those data to make changes like installing safer playground equipment to prevent further injuries."

The Student Injury Reporting System is still used today.

The health department hosted an open house Thursday to thank state officials, community organizations and individuals who have worked to prevent injuries and violence.

"But our work isn't finished yet," said Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray, also a child advocate with Primary Children's Hospital, in a statement.

"We've seen a rise in the number of prescription drug overdoses and suicides the last few years," he said. "And we continue to see far too many lives lost on Utah roads due to distracted driving and the decision to not wear a seat belt. It will take strong commitment from state officials, community partners, and families to stop these growing public health problems."

The department created a timeline highlighting major accomplishments, which included:

1986: Utah State Legislature enacted a seat belt law.

1996: The department and the University of Utah launched the Utah Youth Suicide Study.

1997: Utah became the first Western state to implement a statewide, toll-free, 24-hour rape and sexual assault crisis and information hotline.

1999: Utah's first graduated driver licensing laws went into effect. Since 1999, there has been a nearly two-thirds (62 percent) drop in the rate of teens ages 15-17 killed in motor vehicle crashes.

2005: Primary Children's Medical Center and nonprofit Safe Kids Utah launch the "Spot the Tot" campaign. The campaign is released worldwide in 2006.

2008: The Utah Legislature enacted a law requiring children younger than 8 years of age and less than 57 inches in height to be in an appropriate child restraint device like a car seat or booster seat.

2008: The "Use Only As Directed" media campaign was launched to promote the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription medications.

2013: The Legislature enacted a law that allows those in a dating relationship to get a protective order when one of the dating partners commits abuse.

For the latest statistics and prevention tips, visit www.health.utah.gov/vipp. —

Deadly injuries

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 1-44. In 2011, the top five injury-related causes of death for all Utahns were:

1 • Suicide

2 • Poisoning (most are due to prescription pain medication overdoses)

3 • Motor vehicle traffic crashes

4 • Falls

5 • Unintentional suffocation

Source: Utah Department of Health






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