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What you pay for auto insurance is largely based on what kind of risk the company predicts you will be, based on known factors like your driving history, the kind of car you drive, your age and gender, your marital status and where you live.
Carole Walker, RMIIA

Cost of Auto Crashes & Statistics

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. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. motor vehicle crashes in 2010 cost almost $1 trillion in loss of productivity and loss of life.

Motor vehicle crashes and fatalities increased in 2012 after six consecutive years of declining fatalities on our nation's highways. NHTSA says that 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, up 3.3 percent from 32,479 in 2011. In 2012, an estimated 2,362,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes, up 6.5 percent from 2,217,000 in 2011. A statistical projection released by NHTSA shows that motor vehicle crash fatalities for the first half of 2013 fell about 4.2 percent from a year ago. Crash fatalities have been steadily decreasing since a significant increase was recorded in the first quarter of 2012.

New findings from the Insurance Research Council's (IRC) Auto Injury Insurance Claims Study shows that medical expenses reported by auto injury claimants continue to increase faster than the rate of inflation, in spite of the fact that the severity of the injuries themselves remain on a downward trend. From 2007 to 2012, average claimed economic losses (which include expenses for medical care, lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenditures) grew 8 percent annualized among personal injury protection (PIP) claimants. Among bodily injury (BI) claimants, average claimed losses grew 4 percent. Over the same period, measures such as the percentage of claimants who had no visible injuries at the accident scene or who had fewer than 10 days in which they were unable to perform their usual daily activities provided evidence of a continuing decline in the severity of injuries.

  • In 2012, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,073; the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $14,653 (ISO, a Verisk Analytics company).
  • In 2012, the average collision claim was $2,950; the average comprehensive claim was $1,585 (ISO, a Verisk Analytics company).

Who Pays

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 2010, drunk driving alone accounted for 18% of the total economic loss from motor vehicle crashes, costing the economy as much as $199 billion in direct and quality-of-life losses (NHTSA).

  • Drunk Driving and Speeding: In 2012, 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.

  • Speeding: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2012, 10,219 lives were lost due to speed-related accidents, up 2 percent from 10,001 in 2011. In 2010, speeding accounted for 21% of the total economic loss, responsible for as much as $210 billion in costs (NHTSA).

    • Speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2012.
    • In 2012, 37 percent of both 15- to 20-year-old and 21-to 24-year old male drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.
  • Red Light Running: The IIHS says more than 900 people a year die and nearly 2,000 are injured as a result of vehicles running red lights. About half of those deaths are pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles who are hit by red light runners.

  • Fatigue: Results of a survey released in November 2013 conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that more than a quarter (28.3 percent) of licensed drivers age 16 or older said that in the past 30 days they had driven when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open. An earlier survey found that 41 percent of drivers said they had fallen asleep or "nodded off" at least once in their lives while driving and 11 percent said they had in the last year. The AAA Foundation also said that 16.5 percent, or about one in six fatal crashes, involved a drowsy driver, after examining NHTSA data for 1999-2008.
  • 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. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes and 421,000 people were injured. In 2012, there were 3,050 distraction-affected fatal crashes, about the same as the 3,047 that occurred in 2011. The 3,050 distraction-affected fatal crashes in 2012 accounted for 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the nation, 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. In 2010, distraction accounted for 17% of the total economic loss, responsible for as much as $170 billion in costs (NHTSA).
  • Cell Phone Use: In April 2014, NHTSA released the results of the latest National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which found that in 2012, 1.5 percent of drivers were text-messaging or visibly manipulating hand-held devices, up from 1.3 percent in 2011. NHTSA says that the 2012 increase was not statistically significant. Driver use of hand-held cellphones was 5 percent in 2012 for the fourth year running. Hand-held cellphone use was highest among 16- to 24-year olds (6 percent in 2012) and lowest among drivers 70 and older (1 percent in 2012).

    • 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.

Fatalities

  • 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.
Injuries
  • Injuries in motor vehicle crashes have been declining over the past few years:

    • 2002: 2.93 million injuries
    • 2003: 2.89 million injuries
    • 2004: 2.79 million injuries
    • 2006: 2.54 million injuries
    • 2008: 2.35 million injuries
    • 2009: 2.22 million injuries
    • 2010: 2.24 million injuries
    • 2011: 2.21 million injuries
    • 2012: 2.36 million injuries
  • 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.

Also Visit: State Statistics Compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Additional Information
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