6 Reasons Americans Should Stop Obsessing Over the Threat of Terrorist Attacks

News & Politics

With the Middle East grabbing headlines, many Americans are concerned about terrorism. A CNN poll earlier this month found that 53% of Americans are concerned there will be terrorist attacks, up from 39% in 2011. But while fear of terrorism has skyrocketed, the facts are that few Americans are ever injured or killed by an act of terror. Our country has blown the threat of violence from terrorists way out of proportion.

Dog bites actually killed more Americans last year than terrorism, with 32 fatalities from dogs logged by non-profit DogBites.org. Eight fatalities were from domestic terror attacks (according to the University of Maryland Global Terrorism Database) and 16 from attacks overseas (according to the State Department).

Here are the other things that proved more fatal to Americans than terrorism last year:

1. Child Flu Deaths: During the 2012-2013 flu season, the CDC logged 149 pediatric deaths from the ailment.

2. Deaths During Childbirth: Researchers writing in the medical journal Lancet estimated that nearly 800 mothers died during childbirth last year, making our maternal mortality rate three times as high as the United Kingdom's.

3. Workplace Deaths:According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013...(3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers)—on average, 85 a week or more than 12 deaths every day.”

4. Ordinary Gun Violence: In 2013, more people died every day from ordinary gun violence than from terrorism—with about 30 people being shot and killed each day, according to Slate. The majority of gun deaths are suicides.

5. Traffic Accidents: Although accident fatalities decreased in 2013, the National Safety Council estimated that 35,200 Americans perished in car accidents last year.

This isn't to say we should ignore the threat of terrorism. But we should keep the scope and danger in perspective. Doing so would allow us to focus on the bigger threats to Americans' well-being, and implement policy—like an expansion of workers' safety oversight, public transit and public health initiatives—that will save lives.

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