Accidents, Bad Drivers Cost Us All

By: Jim Champion/The Auto Guy Email
By: Jim Champion/The Auto Guy Email

There are a lot of things that cost you money, like buying food, paying utilities and housing, but you might be surprised how much it costs all of us as a society for something you might not have even been a victim of, motor vehicle crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the results of a study showing that motor vehicle crashes cost Americans $871 billion a year. The study used crash data from 2010 and divided costs up into two different categories.

The first category is societal harm, involving mostly costs associated with loss of life and decreased quality of life due to injuries. This was estimated to be $594 billion per year. The other category is economic costs, which are more than just the costs associated with vehicle and property damage. Things such as insurance premiums, lost wages and even road congestion due to the crashes were factored in as well. This was estimated to be $277 billion per year.

Just the economic cost of crashes equals nearly $900 per year for every person living in the United States. There are many different factors related to the cost of crashes, but the study showed that the three main factors were distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding.

Distracted drivers were responsible for $175 billion in costs with $46 billion being economic costs and $129 billion in societal costs. Drunk drivers accounted for a little more of the costs with $49 billion in economic costs and $199 billion in societal costs. Total for drunk driving was $248 billion.

Speeding drivers accounted for a total of $269 billion of the costs. With $59 billion in economic costs and $199 billion in societal costs, speeding was the highest of them all.

Seat belt use was a factor as well as it prevented around $67 billion in costs when people bucked up. The flip side is that costs associated with people not using their seat belts were estimated to be around $76 billion.

As you can see, a lot of the costs in the study are associated with errors in judgment that some drivers are making behind the wheel. If you take away drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding, there would be a huge decrease in costs. And if everyone were to buckle up their seat belts, the costs would drop even more.

But of course it’s not just about the costs, it’s just as important to remember that people are being injured or killed in accidents. Convincing motorists to drive more responsibly would go a long way towards reducing costs and saving lives.


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