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City Living Safer than the Country, Study Reports

Update Date: Jul 24, 2013 12:32 PM EDT

Cities often get a bad rep for being full of a dangerous place to live. The reports and stories of murders and burglaries do not help paint a safe image for city living. However, according to a new report, city living might not be as bad as people believe. Researchers found that city living might even be safer than living in the rural areas of the country.

"The findings definitely surprised me," the lead researcher, Sage Myers said according to LA Times.  Myers teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and practices emergency room medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Homicide rates are higher in the cities, and people think of those more emotional and sensationalized dangers, but the risk of motor vehicle accidents and machinery accidents is much higher in rural areas."

The researchers found reviewed data of around 1.3 million deaths that were recorded in the United States from 1999 through to 2006. The data came from 3,141 counties. The causes of death included car accidents, heavy machinery, poisoning, firearms, falls, drowning, suffocation, cuts and more. The researchers chose to leave out the deaths that occurred from the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. The team calculated that people living in densely populated urban regions of the country are 20 percent less likely to die from a serious injury in comparison to people who live in rural areas of the country.

"As you moved further and further away from cities you got less and less safe," Myers said according to Reuters. "Even going into the suburbs dropped your safety a bit."

The researchers identified car accidents, poisonings and shootings as the top three overall killers throughout the country. Car accidents topped the list and accounted for 37.5 deaths out of 100,000 people. Although a smaller percentage of people die from poisonings in rural areas, the researchers were surprised to find that the percentage of deaths due to firearms was almost the same between rural and urban areas. On top of that, researchers also discovered that the risk of death due to car accidents was doubled in rural areas in comparison to city living. The researchers reported that the rate of death from car crashes was 27.61 out of 100,000 people in rural areas and 10.58 per 100,000 people in urban areas.

"As of now, the areas that have the highest rate of injury-related deaths have the lowest access to trauma care and physicians trained in emergency room medicine," Myers explained. "I do hope this researcher can feed that conversation and help us reconsider how our healthcare is laid out."

The study was published in the Annals of Emergency Room Medicine

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