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Report: Vehicle Crashes Cost $871 Billion

May 29, 2014

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Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday released a new study about the economic toll and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes in the United States.

The price tag for crashes comes at a cost $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm. This includes $277 billion in economic costs, nearly $900 for each person living in the United States based on calendar year 2010 data, and $594 billion in harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries.

NHTSA's new study, The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 cites several behavioral factors as contributing to the huge price-tag of roadway crashes based on the 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles that took place in 2010.

The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. is the equivalent of 1.9% of the $14.96 trillion Gross Domestic Product in 2010, according to NHTSA. Factors contributing to the price tag include productivity losses, property damage, medical and rehabilitation costs, congestion costs, legal and court costs, emergency services, insurance administration costs, and the costs to employers, among others. Overall, nearly 75% of these costs are paid through taxes, insurance premiums, and congestion related costs such as travel delay, excess fuel consumption, and increased environmental impacts. These costs, borne by society rather than individual crash victims, totaled over $200 billion.

Key findings in the study include:

Drunk Driving -- Crashes caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol accounted for 18% of the total economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes and cost the nation $49 billion, an average cost of $158 for every person in the U.S. NHTSA found including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $199 billion or 23% of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes. Over 90% of these costs occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher.

Speeding -- Crashes involving a speeding vehicle traveling over the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions accounted for 21% of the total economic loss and cost the nation $59 billion in 2010, an average cost of $191 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $210 billion or 24% of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Distraction -- Crashes involving a distracted driver accounted for 17% of the total economic loss and cost the nation $46 billion in 2010, an average cost of $148 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $129 billion or 15% of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Seatbelts: Seatbelt use prevented $69 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury related costs. Conversely, preventable fatalities and injuries to unbelted occupants accounted for 5% of the total economic loss and cost the nation $14 billion in 2010. Including lost quality of life, failure to wear seatbelts caused $72 billion or 8% of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists: Crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 7% of the total economic loss and cost the nation $19 billion in 2010. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $90 billion or 10% of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

 

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