NHTSA: Car crashes cost US $871B

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Thursday that car crashes cost the United States $871 billion per year. 

The calculation, released in a study Thursday, includes $277 billion in economic costs and $594 in damages from loss of life and pain from injuries, the agency said. 

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the figures showed lawmakers should spend more on safety programs. 

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“No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes,” Foxx said in a statement. “While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, today’s report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events.”  

The study, titled “The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010,” cites evidence culled from accidents that produced 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million nonfatal injuries and 24 million damaged cars that were reported that year. 

The traffic safety agency said 18 percent of traffic accidents were caused by drunken drivers, while 21 percent were the result of speeding, and 17 percent were attributed to distracted driving. 

The study found that drunken driving has a $49 billion annual economic impact, compared to $59 billion for speeding and $46 billion for distracted driving. 

Acting NHTSA Administrator David Friedman agreed with Foxx that more safety programs for driving were needed. 

“We want Americans to live long and productive lives, but vehicle crashes all too often make that impossible,” Friedman said.  “This new report underscores the importance of our safety mission and why our efforts and those of our partners to tackle these important behavioral issues and make vehicles safer are essential to our quality of life and our economy.”

The full study can be read here.