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ACCIDENTAL DEATHS IN U.S. RISE FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1988

Ninety thousand Americans died in accidents last year, half of them in car wrecks, the first time in five years that the accidental death toll has risen, a safety group says.

"More people are driving, and as a result, more people are dying on the roadways," said Alan Hoskin, a statistician at the National Safety Council, which calculates accidental deaths every year.Besides the rise in fatalities caused by more social and recreational driving due to a growing economy, the death toll from falls and poisonings also increased from 1992, when nearly 86,000 died in accidents.

The number of deaths in the United States from accidental causes such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, poisonings, drownings and fires had declined every year since 1988, until the 5 percent increase in 1993, the Safety Council said.

The council estimated that another 18.2 million disabling injuries were suffered last year.

It also estimated that accidents cost $407.5 billion in 1993, more than half of it wage and productivity losses and the rest medical, administrative and employer expenses and damage to property.