The highest price we pay for car crashes is in the loss of human lives, however society also bears the brunt of the many costs associated with motor vehicle accidents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in 2010 that the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with motor vehicle crash injuries was over $99 billion, or nearly $500, for each licensed driver in the United States. In addition, every 10 seconds an American is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, based on data from 2005.
New findings from the Insurance Research Council's (IRC) 2011 Trends in Auto Injury Claims report indicate that insurance claim costs countrywide have recently increased, reversing previous trends of declining or relatively stable costs. Although injury claim severity (the average cost of injury claims) has been increasing steadily in the last several years, much of the increase has been offset by declining claim frequency, which produced relatively stable injury claim costs per insured vehicle. However, recent data indicate that claim frequency, on a countrywide basis, is no longer decreasing.
A 2008 report by the Automobile Association of America states that according to the Federal Highway Administration, the per-person cost of traffic fatalities in 2005 dollars is $3.2 million and $68,170 for injuries.
AAA estimates the cost of traffic crashes to be $166.7 billion. Costs include medical, emergency services, police services, property damage, lost productivity, and quality of life. Read AAA executive summary (PDF).
In 2011, 32,367 people died in motor vehicle crashes, down 1.9 percent from 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2011, 2,217,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes. In 2010, 32,999 people died in motor vehicle crashes and an additional 2,239,000 people were injured.
Who Pays |
Crash Type & Driver Behavior | Fatalities | Injuries
State-by-State Statistics & Costs
Private insurers pay approximately 50% of all motor vehicle crash costs. Individual crash victims pay about 26%, while third parties such as uninvolved motorists delayed in traffic, charities and health care providers pay about 14%. Federal revenues account for 6%, while state and local municipalities pick up about 3%. Overall, those not directly involved in crashes pay for nearly three-quarters of all crash costs, primarily through insurance premiums, taxes and travel delay (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Crash Type & Driver Behavior
In 2010 there were 5,419,000 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes, down 1.6 percent from 5,505,000 in 2009. Of total crashes in 2010, 1,542,000 caused injuries and 3,847,000 caused property damage only.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about 10 million or more crashes go unreported each year.
Alcohol-Related Crashes: In 2011, 9,878 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes (any fatal crash involving a driver with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher), down 2.5 percent from 10,136 in 2010. 2011 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 31 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.
- Drunk Driving and Speeding: In 2010, 42 percent of intoxicated drivers (with a BAC at or above 0.08 percent) involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 16 percent of sober drivers.
Fatigue: A study released in November 2010 conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety using NHTSA data for 1999-2008 found that 16.5%, or about 1 in 6 fatal crashes, involved a drowsy driver.
Distracted Driving: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines "distraction-affected crashes" as those that involve distractions such as dialing a cellphone or texting and distraction by an outside person or event. NHTSA said there were 3,331 people killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2011, up 1.9 percent from 3,267 in 2010.
- Cellphone Use: In December 2010 the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the results of their National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which found that in 2010, 0.9 percent of drivers were text-messaging or visibly manipulating hand-held devices, up from 0.6 percent in 2009. Driver use of hand-held cellphones, measured as the percent of drivers holding phones to their ears while driving, was 5 percent in both 2009 and 2010.
- Non-Use of Seatbelts=$20 billion.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2011, 32,367 people died in motor vehicle crashes, down 1.9 percent from 2010.
- 447 people were killed in traffic crashes in Colorado in 2011.
- A motor vehicle death occurred on average every 16 minutes and an injury every 14 seconds in 2011.
90 people died each day in the U.S. in motor
vehicle crashes in 2011.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2010 that the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with motor vehicle crash injuries was over $99 billion, or nearly $500, for each licensed driver in the United States.
- A motor vehicle injury occurs every 14 seconds
in the U.S.
State-By-State Crash Statistics & Costs
The per-capita costs for each state vary from roughly $600-$1,200 compared to the nationwide average of $819. Smaller, less populated states may have lower overall costs, but they may also have fewer resources to draw on. Differences between states may also result from different reporting practices that result in more or less complete reporting of injuries from state to state.
State statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
New Mexico Traffic Crash Information