The True Cost of Car Crashes

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There are a lot of reasons people choose to drive, even when they have viable alternatives: some people are addicted to their cars. And some people think that driving is the safest way to get around.

But the numbers suggest otherwise. The U.S. spends a whopping $871 billion in a single year on motor vehicle crashes in a single year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Direct economic costs, including “productivity losses, property damage, and cost of medical and rehabilitation treatment, congestion, legal and court fees, emergency services and insurance administration, and costs to employers” tallied up to $277 billion of the total cost. This sum alone was equal to nearly 2 percent of the US gross domestic product in 2010, or almost $900 for every person living in the United States that year. The remaining $594 billion was estimated for harm from loss of life, pain, and decreased quality of life due to injuries.

By driving or riding in a car you are five times more likely to have a fatal injury than you are with any variety of mass transportation (bus, train, airline). This chart says it all: motor vehicles are a leading cause of death for every age group.

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The state of Texas is certainly doing its part to contribute to these costs. TxDOT data shows that 232,041 people were injured in motor vehicle traffic across the state last year. In Austin alone, 15,011 traffic crashes were reported in 2012, including 78 fatalities. An Allstate report claims that drivers in Austin were 27.5 percent more likely to get into an accident than the national average that year.

That seems like a good reason to reconsider the car, or at least to try to ease your way out of car dependence. Especially considering the loved ones you bring in your car with you.

Additional research has shown that driver distraction – such as using cell phones – may be involved in as many as 78 percent of passenger vehicle crashes nationwide. We’d be remiss to not point out that you can text to your heart’s content on the bus, train, or as a carpool passenger!

Be safe out there….and choose transit or carpooling as a great way to relax, read, text, or just nap while traveling.


One Response to The True Cost of Car Crashes

  1. M1EK says:

    This is all true – and why we can’t afford to waste our scarce capital dollars on a bad rail route like Highland; we should instead be investing capital dollars where we can make operating cost savings which lead to MORE transit service in the future – on good corridors like Guadalupe/Lamar.