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. The study was released in May 2014. The auto industry's steady improvements in vehicle safety over the last several decades — despite a litany of safety recalls — had driven down the number of roadway deaths to an all-time low of 32,675 in 2014.
NHTSA reports the number of people killed on the road in the U.S. soared 7.2% to 35,092 in 2015, marking the deadliest year on the road since 2008. Though the increase was widely expected after NHTSA last month revealed a preliminary estimate of a 7.7% increase, the official figure solidifies 2015's dubious distinction as the first year-over-year increase since 2012. In addition, roadway deaths of pedestrians and cyclists hit a two-decade high in 2015.
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 2013, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,231; the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443 (ISO, a Verisk Analytics company).
- In 2013, the average collision claim was $3,144; the average comprehensive claim was $1,621 (ISO, a Verisk Analytics company).
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 2016 there were 6,296,000 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes; 37,461 people died and 2,443,000 people were injured. An average of 96 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes. One fatality every 15 seconds.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about 10 million or more crashes go unreported each year.
Alcohol-Related Crashes: In 2016, 10,497 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), up 1.7 percent from 10,320 in 2015. Of the persons who were killed in traffic crashes in 2016, 28% died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. (NHTSA).
Speeding: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2016, 10,111 lives were lost due to speed-related accidents, up 4.0% from 9,723 in 2015. NHTSA says that speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year (NHTSA).
- Speeding was a contributing factor in 29 percent of all fatal crashes in 2013.
- In 2013 about 35 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.
- Fatigue: In 2016, NHTSA stated that there were 803 fatalities (2.1%) in 2016. A study by the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation found that 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. An estimated 21 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in severe injury and 6 percent of all crashes, involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2014 study by the AAA. Results of a November 2013 AAA survey showed that 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.
- Distracted Driving: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gauges distracted driving by collecting data on "distraction-affected crashes," which focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement such as dialing a cellphone or texting and being distracted by another person or an outside event. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, and 391,000 people were injured. NHTSA estimates that over 660,000 people drive distracted every day (NHTSA).
- Robert Gordon, senior vice president for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told a safety forum that the increase in distracted driving isn't spread evenly across the country. He said insurers are seeing bigger increases in the frequency of auto collisions in urban areas where traffic congestion is getting worse, and declines in area where congestion is less of a problem. The analysis relied on insurance data on collisions and Federal Highway Administration data on congestion, Gordon said.
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.
- In 2016, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes, down 3.1 percent from 33,782 in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- A motor vehicle death occurred on average every 16 minutes in 2013.
- About 90 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2013.
- In 2013, 6,337 people were injured each day in motor vehicle crashes.
- A motor vehicle injury occured on average every 14 seconds in 2013.
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.
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 $897. 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