Massachusetts Ranked 44th in State Safety Study
In the Boston suburb of Lowell, Massachusetts, a University of Massachusetts study has found a link between the number of certain kinds of freedoms that states allow and the rate of deaths by unintentional injury or accidents. Boston injury attorney Thiadora Pina notes that the Law office of Neil Burns promotes safety concerns and issues because “following safe practices is a fundamental component of injury to law. We look to the unsafe condition when a case involves personal injury.”
The issue the University study suggested was the fact that a person is less likely to die in an accident if his or her state has laws governing things like seatbelt and tobacco use. The ranking took into account laws regulating the use of seatbelts, motorcycle and bicycle helmets, alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, firearms and cell phones while driving, according to the study.
New Hampshire is ranked the 13th free-est state and had an accidental death rate of 33.7 per 100,000 people in 2006, according to the study. Alaska had the most lax laws and an accident rate of 51.9 per 100,000. At the other end of the spectrum, Maryland was judged to have the strictest laws and had an accidental death rate of 26.1 per 100,000 people, according to the study. Massachusetts was judged as the 44th strictest state with an accidental death rate of 32.0 per 100,000 people.
The study noted that in social science circles, the freedom to do things like ride a motorcycle without a helmet or to own a gun are called negative freedoms. The designation negative isn’t meant to imply that such freedoms are necessarily bad, just that they’re a result of a lack of influence from an outside source, namely, the government.
The study further notes that negative freedoms are not meant as good or bad indicators. They are a different way of thinking about freedom. But not all states with stricter laws had lower accidental death rates. One reason for that is statistical probability, but also social rules can influence behaviors.
Utah, for example, is 14th most free state and is also quite safe with an accidental death rate of about 30 per 100,000 people, according to the study. One reason may be the influence of the Church of Latter-day Saints, which prohibits things like drinking.
The study’s author noted that, “In the end it may make better sense, from a health perspective, to think about freedom as freedom from danger or death, rather than as freedom to act any way that you like, even if it is unsafe.”
The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health, according to UMass Lowell spokesperson Karen Angelo.