CDC: Yearly cost of auto accidents is almost $100B

Traffic accidents cost the nation more than $99 billion a year — with teenagers and young adults representing about a third of that expense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday. 

The figure reflects about $17 billion in direct medical care, with the remaining costs attributed largely to production loss as victims recover from their injuries (or don't). 

"Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, and nearly 40,000 people die from these injuries each year," Grant Baldwin, director of CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, said in a statement. The costs related to those numbers, he added, "are staggering."

Those riding in vehicles represented 71 percent of crash-related costs ($70 billion), while motorcyclists accounted for $12 billion, pedestrians added $10 billion and bicyclists represented $5 billion, CDC reported.

Among the other key CDC findings:

• Males represented 70 percent of all fatalities and 74 percent of all costs.

• Teens and young adults, though only 14 percent of the nation's population, represented 28 percent of all injuries and fatalities, resulting in 31 percent of the total crash-related costs ($31 billion).

• Costs related to fatal accidents totaled $58 billion, while those resulting in non-fatal hospitalizations accounted for $28 billion. 

CDC is quick to note that traffic accidents — and the subsequent medical costs — are preventable. Child safety seats, stronger seatbelt laws and more sobriety checkpoints are just a few of the strategies the agency is promoting to reduce both. 

The study was published in the latest issue of Traffic Injury Prevention.