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What are the economic impacts of motor vehicle crashes?

When a motor vehicle crash happens, the primary focus of those involved is on injuries. Those injuries may be to themselves, others who were in their vehicle, others who were in the other vehicle or those close enough to be affected. Still, it is important to know the economic impact that motor vehicle crashes have too.

What is the economic impact on a national level?

It is hundreds of billions of dollars per year. For example, in 2010 it was $242 billion. That is the same as 1.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the United States, and equals around $784 for every resident of the U.S.

What is the lifetime economic cost per fatality to society?

That is $1.4 million. Most of it, over 90 percent, is attributable to lost household and workplace productivity and legal costs. Workplace productivity costs total $57.6 billion, and household productivity costs total $19.7 billion.

What about the cost per critically injured survivor?

The cost for each of them is $1 million on average and is based primarily on lost productivity and medical costs.

What about property damage?

That is another significant cost and totals about $76.1 billion across all crash types.

What are some other significant costs?

Property damage-only crashes, where there was damage to property but weren't injuries to people, are another significant source of motor vehicle crash-related economic impact. Immediate and long-term medical costs for those who are injured is also a significant cost.

Ultimately, the effect on people will always supersede the economic impact of crashes, but the economic impact can be a good way to rally support for safety improvements to help prevent more crashes in the first place.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 (Revised)," accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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