Everyone knows how expensive it can be if you are involved in a car accident. After paying for damages to your car, medical bills, and damage to other property, you can owe thousands of dollars. What most people are unaware of, however, is just how much you pay every year due to car accidents in the U.S., even if you are not directly involved.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 38,000 people are killed annually across the United States in motor vehicle accidents.
As of 2018, fatalities have cost approximately $55 billion in lost income and medical expenses. In Illinois alone, the most recently available data from 2018 showed more than 1,200 people passed away due to fatal motor vehicle accident injuries.
More than ten years ago, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) examined the economic impact of car accidents in the United States. They found that U.S. citizens paid over $871 billion in economic costs and societal harm. These numbers included $277 billion in direct economic costs paid by taxpayers averaging $900 per person in the United States.
While taxpayers are not always directly responsible for paying all these costs, about 75 percent of the $277 billion is paid by individuals. This is often directly through taxes and insurance premiums or in less clear-cut ways like congestion costs, such as time wasted in traffic, added gas consumption, and environmental degradation. Once you extrapolate this data to consider how what the numbers might look like over a decade later, the thought is staggering.
According to the NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, “This 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 NHTSA is using this data to show how much better safety measures could affect the economy. However, there are separate ways to minimize your negative impact on the economy (and be safer as well).
The costs associated with motor vehicle accidents largely stem from nearly $1.7 billion in lost income and more than $15 million in medical expenses. Collectively, the total economic cost of traffic fatalities in Illinois is estimated at approximately $1.7 billion.
Other costs associated with Illinois motor vehicle accidents could include reduced earning capacity, increased auto insurance premiums, future medical care, household upkeep and maintenance fees, childcare expenses, and other economic losses.
Here are some of the top ways you can take steps to minimize the number of motor vehicle accidents, maximize safety, and reduce the total economic cost of car accidents across Illinois in the country:
Approximately $69 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury-related costs were saved by accident victims using seat belts. This number could be even more significant with wider use of seatbelts. Preventable damage caused by not wearing seatbelts accounts for about 5% of the total economic loss.
Drunk driving is still one of the more common causes of car crashes in the U.S. and by far one of the most expensive. According to the CDC, taxpayers pay nearly $44 billion to cover economic costs associated with drunk driving.
Don’t text, check your email, eat, or distract yourself while driving. Almost as much damage can be caused by driving distracted as can be caused by driving drunk. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the economic costs of distracted driving amounted to $129 billion in 2021.
According to the NHTSA, car crashes involving a vehicle driving over the posted limits account for approximately $52 billion annually. Speeding cars often get into worse accidents and can cause more damage.
While it may not be possible to avoid some crashes, you can save yourself and others high economic costs by driving safely and carefully. More importantly, you may also save someone’s life. You might wonder about your options if you have been hurt in an accident.