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.
- In 2012, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,073; the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $14,653.
- In 2012, the average collision claim was $2,950; the average comprehensive claim was $1,585.
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.
Motor vehicle crashes and fatalities increased in 2012 after six consecutive years of declining fatalities on our nation's highways. 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes, up 3.3 percent from 32,479 in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012, an estimated 2,362,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes, up 6.5 percent from 2,217,000 in 2011. This is the first statistically significant increase since 1995, according to NHTSA.
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 2012 there were 5,419,000 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes, 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes, up 3.3 percent from 32,479 in 2011. 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 2012, 10,322 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). Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities increased by 4.6 percent in 2012, accounting for 31 percent of overall fatalities.
In 2011, 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.
In 2011, 9,944 lives were lost due to speed-related accidents, down 5 percent from 10,508 in 2010.
- Speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2011.
- Speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year.
- In 2011, 39 percent of 15- to 20-year-old and 37 percent of 21-to 24-year old male drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.
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. 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. There were 3,020 distraction-affected fatal crashes in 2011, according to the latest estimate from NHTSA. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, compared with 3,360 in 2011 and 3,092 in 2010. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in distraction-affected crashes in 2012, up 9 percent from 387,000 in 2011, but lower than the 416,000 injured in 2010.
Cell phone Use: In April 2013 the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the results of the latest National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which found that in 2011, 1.3 percent of drivers were text-messaging or visibly manipulating hand-held devices, up from 0.9 percent in 2010. 2011 marked the second year of significant increases. Driver use of hand-held cell phones was 5 percent in 2011 for the third year running. Hand-held cell phone use was highest among 16- to 24-year olds (7 percent in 2010 and 2011) and lowest among drivers 70 and older (2 percent in both 2011, up from 1 percent every year back to 2002).
A State Farm study released in late 2012 found that among drivers age 18 to 29, almost half (48 percent) accessed the Internet on a cell phone while driving. One-third of those drivers (36 percent) read social media networks while driving. Almost half of those drivers (43 percent) checked their email while driving. Other age groups engaged in these activities less frequently.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- In 2012, 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes, up 3.3 percent from 32,479 in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- 472 people were killed in traffic crashes in Colorado in 2012.
- A motor vehicle death occurred on average every 16 minutes and an injury every 14 seconds in 2012. A motor vehicle death occurred on average every 16 minutes in 2012.
- About 92 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2012.
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.