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The Real Cost of Car Crashes

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury


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 maybe even 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.

Car accidents cost more than you think

A study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) examined the economic impact of car accidents in the United States. They found out that in 2010 alone U.S. citizens paid over $871 billion in economic costs and societal harm. These numbers include $277 billion in direct economic costs paid by taxpayers. This comes out to a cost of about $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 either directly through taxes and insurance premiums or in less clear cut ways like congestion costs, such as time wasted in traffic, added gas consumption costs or even environmental degradation. Once you extrapolate this data to consider how great of an impact this has over the course of 10 years or longer, then numbers are staggering.

When you think about how much car crashes really cost every person in the U.S. every year, it is unbelievable. According to the NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, “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 NHTSA is using this data to show how much of an impact better safety measures could have on the economy. However, there are individual ways that you can minimize your negative impact on the economy (and be safer as well).

  • Always wear a seatbelt: Approximately $69 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury related costs was saved in 2010 by accident victims using seatbelts. This number could be even greater though with wider use of seatbelts. Preventable damage caused by not wearing a seatbelt accounted for about 5 percent of the total economic loss in 2010.
  • Never drink and drive: 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. Taxpayers had to pay nearly $49 billion dollars to cover economic costs associated with drunk driving in 2010.
  • Don’t text, check your email, eat or otherwise distract yourself while driving: Almost as much damage can be caused by driving distracted as can be caused by driving drunk. In fact, the economic costs from distracted driving amounted to $46 billion in 2010.
  • Be careful of speed limits: Crashes involving a vehicle driving over the posted limits accounted for 21 percent of the total economic cost in the country in 2010. Cars that are speeding often get into worse accidents and can cause more damage.

While it may not be possible to avoid some crashes, by driving safely and carefully you can save yourself and others significant economic costs. More importantly, you may also save someone’s life. If you have been hurt in an accident, you might be wondering what your options are. We have gathered information together on Chicago car crashes and personal injury to get you started. If you have questions, please feel free to call us at (312) 236-2900 for a free, confidential consultation of your situation.

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(312) 236-2900
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