Christmas is the time for toys. Parents expect that toys have been designed and manufactured with safety in mind. That is not a safe assumption. Ninety five percent (95%) of the toys sold in the United States are now manufactured overseas, mainly in China. In the last 10 years, the number of toy-related injures has increased 54%. In 2008, more than 235,000 children were treated at U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, and at least 19 children died. The causes of these injuries and deaths have included choking hazards from small detachable or easily broken parts; lead and cadmium contamination, particularly in children's jewelry; toxic chemicals in candy; and a variety of additional dangers such as igniting batteries, broken straps, and exploding parts. Small, powerful magnets swallowed by young children present a particularly insidious danger. If multiple magnets are swallowed, they can attract each other through the intestinal walls pinching, blocking or eroding the intestinal wall resulting in infections, blood poisoning, and even death. The undermanned Consumer Products Safety Commission is only able to check a tiny fraction of the toys imported into this country every year. Many of the dangers in modern toys are either latent or intentionally concealed. Even careful parents need to know that profits, and not necessarily safety, are the first priority for a number of toy manufacturers.
The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) recently reported that the number of people killed in motor vehicle collisions dropped to 33,808 in 2009. This is the lowest number of annual motor vehicle deaths since 1950, a time when the population of the United States was only half of today's population of 305 million. The highest number of fatalities occurred in 1973 – three years after the creation of NHTSA – when approximately 54,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents. The estimated number of people injured in car crashes is also at its lowest level since NHTSA began tracking that statistic in 1988. The dramatic improvement in fatality and injury rates is the result of improvements in the crashworthiness of cars and pickup trucks; improved road design; and aggressive campaigns against drunk and impaired driving. Unfortunately, Alaska was one of only nine states to see an increase in vehicle deaths in 2009, from 62 deaths in 2008 to 64 deaths in 2009. However, primarily due to Alaska's small population, Alaska also had the lowest number of motor vehicle deaths of any state in 2009. After Alaska, the states with the lowest number of motor vehicle fatalities in 2009 were Rhode Island (65), Vermont (73), North Dakota (104), Hawaii (107), South Dakota (121), and Delaware (121).