Insurance News

Motor vehicle crashes cost the US $100 billion a year

Posted on: September 2, 2010

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) — Motor vehicle accidents don’t just impact the people involved, they also impact the economy, to the tune of just under $100 billion for medical care and injury-related productivity losses in the United States each year, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. That includes $3.6 billion annually toward injuries to children.

On average, each licensed driver in the United States ponies up about $500 a year toward the total costs, the CDC said.

“Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, and nearly 40,000 people die from these injuries each year. This study highlights the magnitude of the problem of crash-related injuries from a cost perspective, and the numbers are staggering,” Dr. Grant Baldwin, the director of the CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a press release.

According to the study, injuries, both fatal and nonfatal, to people riding in cars and light trucks cost $70 billion a year. Injuries to motorcyclists cost $12 billion. Bicyclists and pedestrians, who are vulnerable against motor vehicles, cost $5 billion and $10 billion a year respectively, the CDC said.

The study also found the amount of money that goes toward motorcyclists’ and pedestrians’ injuries is disproportionate when compared to the number of injuries, likely due to the severity of their injuries.

While motorcyclists only account for 6 percent of motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, they lead to 12 percent of the costs. And pedestrians, who only comprise 5 percent of motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries, consume 10 percent of the total costs, according to the study.

The CDC said several policy initiatives have been proven to cut down on crash injuries and deaths, including graduated driver licensing programs, which allow new teen drivers to get road experience in low-risk situations. The CDC says strong graduated driver licensing laws have been associated with up to 40 percent decreases in crashes among 16-year-old drivers.

Other CDC-recommended policies include child safety seat education, seat belt laws and enforcement, sobriety checkpoints, and motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws.

The CDC said the study, published in the the journal “Traffic Injury Prevention,” used data from 2005, the last year from which relevant data were available from multiple sources.

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