At first sight it might seem disturbing that accidental deaths are contributing an increasing proportion of the total mortality amongst young people in the UK. In 1932, for example, approximately 6 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales in the 1-4 years old age group were due to accidents. By 1972 the proportion was 24 per cent. For the 5-14 age group the rise was from 12 per cent to 37 per cent and in the 15-24 year old age group 48 per cent of all deaths in 1972 were due to accidents compared with only 12 per cent in 1932. Yet in reality the picture is much more encouraging. The actual number of accidental deaths among these age groups has dropped by one fifth over the period. The differences in proportion can, to a large extent, be explained by the elimination of the major common causes of death in childhood and early adulthood, such as diphtheria and tuberculosis. Furthermore, the underlying trend appears to continue downwards.