Car crashes are an expensive business in the States, with figures per person passing a quarter of a million dollars.
Car crashes often have immeasurable consequences, particularly when fatalities occur. But the US Department of Transport’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a new study that puts the annual financial loss of car collisions at a whopping $870 (£520) billion.
That figure works out at around $277,335 (£165,913) per person, which is up 120 per cent on figures issued by Cambridge Systematics, Inc in 2011. The total cost takes into account both the economic loss, for example medical services and vehicle damage, but also societal losses, such as pain and loss of quality of life due to injuries.
Drink-driving and speeding were the main causes of crashes and accounted for 39 per cent of total economic loss and almost half of societal costs. The figures for speeding not only covered those motorists driving above the limit, but also those travelling too fast for the road conditions. Crashes caused by distracted driving accounted for over $170 (£101) billion of combined losses, with $129 (£77) billion of that accounting for societal harm. Cyclists and pedestrians took a 17 per cent chunk of the pie.
On a more positive note, seatbelt use accounted for a $69 (£41) billion saving in medical care, lost productivity and other injury-related costs. Sadly, failure to wear seatbelt cost the US $72 (£43) billion
US Secretary Anthony Foxx commented: “No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one…today’s report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events.”
While 52 per cent of the costs are shouldered by private insurance companies, 25 per cent of motorists involved in crashes pay for the damages themselves. The government contributes 9 per cent.
A number of car makers are committed to reduce road deaths to zero, including Volvo and BMW. They are developing technologies for the cars which will give the drivers, other vehicles and traffic management agencies more data, such as real-time location data transmission and parking assist measures.