Image for article titled Guns Have Overtaken Cars as Leading Cause of Traumatic Deaths in the U.S.

According to new research, gun-related deaths have overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of deaths from physical trauma. More lives and years of life were lost to firearms than to motor vehicles. Black Americans were more likely to die from gun-related homicides than older white men.

Motor vehicle deaths are thought to be the leading cause of death among Americans ages 46 and younger. There has been a noticeable increase in firearm deaths over the past decade, which made the researchers wonder if that distinction was still true. They looked through the latest mortality data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yearly car deaths continued to outnumber firearm deaths. Guns were on top by the end of the year. Over 39,000 Americans were killed by guns in that year, while over 37,000 died in a motor vehicle crash.

The researchers tried to calculate the years of potential life lost, which subtracts the age when someone dies from their expected mortality, in this case age 80. The team calculated that over 1.5 million years of life were lost to firearms, compared with over one million years of life lost to cars. The findings of the team were published Tuesday.

Motor vehicle crashes used to be the single largest cause of traumatic death in the U.S., according to the researchers.

The lion's share of these gun deaths involved men. There were different patterns in different groups. About half of all gun deaths in the year were related to suicide, and about 18% of deaths were related to homicides, which accounted for the majority of deaths among Black men. The 10-year period saw a rise in both gun-related suicides and homicides, as well as deaths attributed to police shootings. According to the Washington Post, the US police shot and killed over a thousand people in 2020 and over a thousand people in 2021.

Car crashes and firearm deaths have not improved in the last few years. There has been an increase of risky driving since the beginning of the Pandemic. During the first year of the epidemic, suicides seem to have decreased, and gun violence may have declined.

The authors say the findings show that more needs to be done to reduce the harms caused by guns in a country with more firearms than people.

The authors wrote that deaths related to firearms are potentially preventable causes of death.