Every year we are reminded of the number of deaths caused by car accidents. That's bad enough. However, accidents also have an economic impact. For example, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), accidents cost each licensed driver in the U.S. about $500 a year and cost the country's economy as a whole as much as $100 billion. The figures were ascertained from data compiled in 2005, the most recent year with complete data.
The study also found that the cost of fatal and non-fatal accidents for people riding in motor vehicles accounted for 71 percent of the overall cost. That translates to about $70 billion. Injuries and deaths caused by motorcycle accidents cost the economy $12 billion. And death and injury of pedestrians cost $10 billion.
The report also reveals that death and injuries due to motorcycle accidents and accidents involving pedestrians had a cost out of proportion with the number of total accidents. That is because the injuries caused by crashes involving motorcycles and pedestrians cause more severe injuries. According to the study, motorcycles accounted for 6 percent of all fatalities and injuries, but represented 12 percent of the costs. Pedestrians accounted for 5 percent of all injuries and deaths but 10 percent of the costs.
The study also found that teens and young adults who are 15 to 25 years old accounted for 28 percent of deaths and injuries and 31 percent of the cost. This despite the fact that they only make up 14 percent of the population.
Other findings of the report:
- Males accounted for 70 percent of all fatalities and 74 percent of all costs
- Costs related to accidents that caused death were $58 billion and costs resulting in non-fatal hospitalizations were $28 billion
- $17 billion of the total costs were due to direct medical care and the remaining costs were assigned to loss of production as victims recover from their injuries.
According to the CDC, most accidents are preventable. It recommends that communities take the following actions to lower the number of fatalities and injuries due to auto accidents.
- Adopt graduated driver license policies that restrict teen drivers and encourage them to gather more driving experience
- Promote child safety seat education and distribution
- Make seat belt laws more enforceable to allow police to stop drivers for not wearing a seat belt and have more programs that encourage the use of seat belts
- Have more motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws
- Have more sobriety checkpoints