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Car crashes cost us $900 each, whether or not you're involved

NHTSA study finds that in 2010, Americans were saddled with $277 billion of crash-related expenses.

By Clifford Atiyeh Jun 4, 2014 9:06AM
In case you thought safe driving and friendly road manners were lowering your annual expenses, it turns out you're still overpaying.

According to a new economic study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it's the other guy's fault. Car crashes cost each of us about $900 a year whether we're involved or not, or about $277 billion in total. The NHTSA looked at all available data from 2010, and when putting a value to deaths, injuries and general harm, we were saddled with another $594 billion. And that's just from one year.

Speaking strictly of economic losses, speeding accounted for 21 percent of the total losses, followed by drunk driving (18 percent) and distraction (17 percent). Pedestrians and cyclists, who make up roughly 15 percent of all road-related deaths, cost $19 billion in 2010 (7 percent), while people who refuse to wear seatbelts saddled us with $14 billion (5 percent).
People who don't crash end up paying more than 75 percent of the cost, or more than $200 billion, in the form of higher insurance premiums, taxes and traffic delays that eat up more fuel and time. Then there are the legal fees, health insurance payouts, lost productivity and just about every other form of waste resulting from banging vehicles into things. In total, according to the report, car crashes represented 1.9 percent of the entire country's gross domestic product, which in 2010 was $14.96 trillion.

While traffic deaths are down more than 25 percent since the 1970s, more than 30,000 people die every year. In 2010, there were 32,999 deaths plus another 3.9 million injured. That's not even counting the 24 million vehicles that had to be repaired or scrapped. All of this occurred in a single year.

According to Autoliv, an automotive safety supplier that invented the three-point seat belt, and other analysts, human error is the cause of at least 90 percent of all traffic accidents worldwide. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, traffic deaths will be the fifth leading cause of death, at 2.4 million people per year, rising above even that of HIV and AIDS. It's a grim future, especially in lower-income countries without the high standards and general enforcement found in the U.S.

[Source: NHTSA; PDF here]
38Comments
Jun 4, 2014 2:41PM
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Bring back chrome bumpers and save!   John Teske
Jun 5, 2014 5:08AM
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You can blame attorneys and those who drive without insurnace for a lot of these costs.
Jun 4, 2014 1:52PM
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A vehicle hit me that was 100% at fault and they have Geico Insurance, which according to the Attorney's I spoke to before hiring one and people in the industry is the worst because they are cheapskates and don't like to pay anything out. Hey! You would think with all the money that Geico spends on commercials that they would be a good Insurance Company but I have confirmed what everyone has told me, that they are difficult to deal with and sticklers about everything when it comes to paying out when their insured is responsible for the accident. I even met a women who had Geico and she wasn't at fault for the accident but since Geico had to pay out they made her feel like the guilty party, so after that she too cancelled the policy with Geico and moved over to Liberty Mutual.
Jun 4, 2014 1:26PM
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LOL - So if that's the case then why not adopt the obama model of "lowering costs" and make it "mandatory" that all American citizens of working age purchase car insurance whether you drive or not or own a car or not, that way the costs can be shared among a greater percentage of the citizenry because even if you don't own or drive you will most likely be a passenger in a car someday and if you think the govt can't make that happen think again since we now have "obamacare" and thanks to the supreme court mandate the govt can now compel a citizen to purchase a product or service whether they want it or need it simply because they exist and of course the "govt" will allow a citizen to "opt out" but they will have to pay a penalty in the form of a tax that will be equal to the cost of purchasing care insurance. Enjoy what you voted for....chum.........p's. - LOL
Jun 4, 2014 12:51PM
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setting the stage of self driving cars more stories to come. You like your 2nd amendment right but there is nothing in the constitution about the right to drive. Drivers license going to be taken away just a matter of time and will be done in the name of safety.
Jun 5, 2014 9:29AM
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Got to agree with this one!  Some one put about a foot long crease in the lower front fender and door panel almost 9 years ago before I even made the first payment!!  Probably with a damn shopping cart!    $700.00 to fix it believe it or not., paint isn't even scratched.  Having $1000.00 deductible, the crease is still there! :-(
Jun 4, 2014 1:18PM
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By then we will all be locked up in FEMA camps according to my Conspiracy Theorist daughter. So no worries about driving or needing a DL. As an Insurance Agent. I am utterly appauled at the way people drive. People have stopped paing attention completely while driving. I blame the invention of the Automatic Transmission.
Jun 4, 2014 2:25PM
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oops, was lookin for the story 'bout the 60,000 'kid' illegals just brought across the border into Arizona

1.4 billion for them - 0 for actual Americans

Jun 4, 2014 2:09PM
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stproz -- they can take the second and get away with it pretty clean but if they even mention taking cars they will all be hung before sundown.
Jun 4, 2014 2:31PM
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True. But in the long term, not crashing and paying "insurance rate**** ALOT harder. id rather pay a little up front (comparitively) than a bunch through the long term. On  top of this, most insurance companies wont pay up if you do have an accident. So wtf are we even doing it for?
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