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Saving Lives and Protecting People from Violence and Injuries

Violence and Injuries Affect Everyone

It is likely that you or someone you know has been touched by violence or injury: A neighborhood child killed in a car crash. A friend who committed suicide. An older relative who fell and suffered a brain injury.

Violence and injuries affect everyone, regardless of age, race, or economic status. In the first half of life, more Americans die from violence and injuries — such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, or homicides — than from any other cause, including cancer, HIV, or the flu.

And, deaths are only part of the problem. Each year, millions of people are injured and survive. They are faced with life-long mental, physical, and financial problems.

Prevention Saves Lives

Violence and injuries are so common that we often accept them as just part of life. But they can be prevented, and their consequences reduced. We know prevention works. For example:

  • Seat belts have saved an estimated 255,000 lives between 1975 and 2008.1
  • School-based programs to prevent violence have been shown to cut violent behavior 29% among high school students and 15% across all grade levels.2
  • Ignition interlocks, or in-car breathalyzers, can reduce the rate of re-arrest among drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated by a median of 67%.3
  • Tai chi and other exercise programs for older adults have been shown to reduce falls by as much as half among participants.4

In the United States

  Photo: Young woman driving a car

  clock iconNearly 180,000 people die from violence and injuries each year–nearly 1 person every 3 minutes.5


  hospital iconMore than 2.8 million people are hospitalized and 31.7 million people treated in emergency rooms as a result of violence and injuries each year.5


  cost iconViolence and injuries cost more than $406 billion in medical care and lost productivity each year.6

Injury: A Leading Cause of Death


More people ages 1–44 die from injuries than from any other cause, including cancer, HIV, or the flu.5

Putting Science into Action


For more than 20 years, CDC’s Injury Center has helped protect Americans from violence and injury threats. We are the nation’s leading authority on violence and injury. We study violence and injuries and research the best ways to prevent them, applying science for real-world solutions to keep people safe, healthy, and productive

Here is how we are putting our scientific expertise into action:

Identifying and Monitoring the Injury Problem

  Photo: a graph on a computer screenThe Injury Center develops and uses cutting-edge data systems to track injuries and deaths by age, race, and a host of other factors. These powerful tools ensure that prevention initiatives are guided by the best available science and research. By studying patterns in data, we can better understand the nature and scope of an injury or violence problem, measure how well prevention efforts are working, and identify emerging issues. Through the National Violent Death Reporting System, for instance, the Center gathers, shares, and links comprehensive state data on violent deaths.

Conducting Research to Guide Decision Making

  Photo: man with an alcoholic drink handing his car keys to another manThe Injury Center conducts and funds a wide range of research that provides vital knowledge about what works in violence and injury prevention. This knowledge informs decision making about programs and policies to reduce violence and injuries, facilitating wise investments of prevention resources. For example, Injury Center research showed that state 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration) laws effectively reduced alcohol-related traffic deaths.7 This finding served as a foundation for tying federal highway funds to 0.08% BAC laws.

Empowering States Through Funding and Technical Assistance

  US MapThe Injury Center provides critical funding and technical assistance to states through its Core Violence and Injury Prevention Program. The program strengthens states’ capacity to collect and use data to better understand the local injury environment and challenges, plan injury prevention and control efforts, and carry out and evaluate potentially life-saving interventions for their residents. Additionally, through the Rape Prevention and Education Program, the Center provides funding to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and six U.S. territories.

Building Effective Partnerships for Prevention

  Photo: young football player wearing a helmetViolence and injury prevention takes coordinated efforts across agencies, organizations, and sectors. The Injury Center works with a variety of partners—from local health departments to national corporations—to make people safer in their homes, cars, and communities. For example, a successful partnership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) helps raise awareness of concussions and improve prevention and treatment of these traumatic brain injuries.

Building Awareness Through Communication and Education

  Vital Signs logoThe Injury Center uses innovative communication campaigns, trainings, and program materials to educate and states, health care providers, policy makers, public health practitioners, and the public and to advance prevention initiatives and promote policies that save lives. For example, through CDC’s Vital Signs program, we spotlight issues such as prescription painkiller overdoses, alcohol-impaired driving, and seat belt use to raise awareness about the problem and promote proven solutions.

Preventing Violence and Injuries Around the Globe

  Image: globeViolence and injuries threaten people in the U.S. and all over the world. The Injury Center collaborates with partners and governments around the world, sharing vital lessons learned that can be put to work abroad. In India, Colombia, and Iraq, for example, the Injury Center is helping to build more effective trauma care programs to improve care for the injured.

CDC Works 24/7 to Save Lives and Protect People

CDC’s Injury Center is committed to saving lives, protecting people, and lowering the health and societal costs of violence and injuries. Our goal is to offer individuals, communities, and states timely, accurate information and useful tools and resources to keep people safe where they live, work, play, and learn. Take action today by learning more about ways you can protect yourself and others from violence and injuries!


    1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts: Occupant Protection. 2008 Data. Pub. No. DOT HS 811 160.  Available from:
    2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effectiveness of universal school-based programs for the prevention of violent and aggressive behavior: A report on recommendations of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services. MMWR Recommendations and Reports 2007; 56(RR-7).
    3. Guide to Community Preventive Services. Reducing alcohol-impaired driving: ignition interlocks. [cited 2010 Oct 1]. Available at URL:
    4. CDC. Stevens JA. A CDC Compendium of Effective Fall Interventions: What Works for Community-Dwelling Older Adults. 2nd ed. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2010.
    5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online] (2011) [accessed 2014 Jul 11]. Available from URL:
    6. Finkelstein EA, Corso PS, Miller TR, Associates. Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2006.
    7. NHTSA. .08 BAC Illegal per se Level. Traffic Safety Facts: Laws. March 2004;2(1). Available from: