The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has completed a report on the cost of motor vehicle crashes nationwide. The report provides a summary of the financial damage caused by traffic accidents in 2012. While the report does an excellent job of showing the scope of the problem, it falls far short of providing a true understanding of the damage done by negligent drivers. Working with families that have lost loved ones because of distracted, drunk and unsafe drivers provides real insight into the “cost” of motor vehicle accidents.
Even a look at the financial picture is stunning. According to the CDC, vehicle crashes caused $18 billion in lifetime medical costs for victims. Crashes resulted in more than a million days spent in the hospital by Americans. The CDC estimated that $33 billion in lifetime earnings was lost because of crashes that occurred in 2012. In dollar value alone, it is clear how beneficial it would be for people to focus on being safer drivers.
The report detailed several ways the CDC believes accidents can be reduced. Among them are a greater emphasis on seat belt laws, allowing police to pull over a vehicle and ticket drivers and passengers for not wearing seat belts. The CDC also suggests better child passenger restraint laws, sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunk driving and more.
The report from 2012 represents an improvement from a decade ago. The CDC estimated that safety gains from 2002 to 2012 reduced medical costs by $1.7 billion and lost work costs by $2.3 billion. Improvements have been made and can continue, as long as people appreciate the value in driving safety.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Costly but Preventable” October 2014