By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study by doctors at Penn and CHOP upturns conventional thinking about the relative safety of cities, suburbs and rural areas. The research finds cities are the safest places and rural areas the most dangerous.

The doctors studied the prevalence of premature death due to injuries and found it is 20 percent lower in cities than in rural areas. Dr. Sage Myers says the leading cause of death from injuries is the automobile.

“When most people think of injury and safety, the first thing that comes to their mind is more intentional injuries — their risk of being shot or attacked — but by and large you’re much more likely to die of unintentional injury.”

Fifteen times more likely, they found. Fire arms are the second leading cause of injury-related death and the risk is about the same across environments, even though homicide is more prevalent in cities.

Dr. Myers says she was surprised by the results herself and hopes the study will lead people to re-evaluate safety and risk.

“Especially if people are using that information to decide where to spend time or where to live.”

The study was published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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