The Economic Cost of Car Crashes in the United States

Studies reveal that lost productivity, expensive medical and psychological treatment, court costs and legal fees, and costs related to emergency services, insurance administration, property damage and roadway congestion associated with vehicle crashes added up to an estimated $242 billion in 2010 alone. That is approximately $784 per each person in the U.S., and about 1.6 percent of the United States Gross Domestic Product. When valuations for quality of life were included, that number soared to an estimated $836 billion. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), lifetime costs for 32,999 traffic crash-related deaths, 3.9 million vehicle accident injuries, and 24 million vehicles that were damaged were responsible for these costs.

 

Additionally, the NHTSA report revealed that:

  • The economic cost over a lifetime for each car crash-related fatality is approximately $1.4 million. Lost workplace and household productivity and legal expenses account for more than 90 percent of this cost.
  • Individuals who are categorized as being critically injured cost an average of $1 million each. An estimated 82% of these costs are attributable to lost productivity and medical expenses.
  • Lost workplace productivity alone is responsible for an estimated $57.6 billion- which is approximately 24 percent of total crash-related costs. About $19.7 billion of these costs (8 percent) were caused from lost productivity in the household.
  • Property damage costs for all types of vehicle crashes including those that were fatal, and those that included serious injuries or property damage only accounted for 31 percent ($76.1 billion) of all economic expenses. In cases that involved property damage but no injuries were sustained, economic costs reached $71.5 billion- 30 percent of all car crash amounts.
  • Medical expenses for injured victims were responsible for approximately $23.4 billion in economic costs, equal to about 10 percent of the total.
  • Travel delays, additional fuel usage and environmental effects cost society an estimated $28 billion in 2010. This is approximately 12 percent of all economic costs associated with car crashes.

 

Many of the costs associated with vehicle crashes are borne by members of society and companies who were not directly involved. These costs are paid through higher insurance premiums, congestion-related costs like traffic delays and increased fuel consumption, and taxes. In fact, non-involved individuals and businesses cover more than 75 percent of all car crash costs each year.