The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 (Revised)

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. The $277 billion cost of motor vehicle crashes represents the equivalent of nearly $897 for each of the 308.7 million people living in the United States, and 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion real U.S. Gross Domestic Product for 2010. These figures include both police-reported and unreported crashes. When quality of life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was $871 billion. Lost market and household productivity accounted for $93 billion of the total $277 billion economic costs, while property damage accounted for $76 billion. Medical expenses totaled $35 billion. Congestion caused by crashes, including travel delay, excess fuel consumption, greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants accounted for $28 billion. Each fatality resulted in an average discounted lifetime cost of $1.4 million. Public revenues paid for roughly 9 percent of all motor vehicle crash costs, costing tax payers $24 billion in 2010, the equivalent of over $200 in added taxes for every household in the United States. Alcohol involved crashes accounted for $59 billion or 21 percent of all economic costs, and 84 percent of these costs occurred in crashes where a driver or non-occupant had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or greater. Alcohol was the cause of the crash in roughly 82 percent of these cases, causing $49 billion in costs. Crashes in which alcohol levels are BAC of .08 or higher are responsible for over 90 percent of the economic costs and societal harm that occurs in crashes attributable to alcohol use. Crashes in which police indicate that at least one driver was exceeding the legal speed limit or driving too fast for conditions cost $59 billion in 2010. Seat belt use prevented 12,500 fatalities, 308,000 serious injuries, and $69 billion in injury related costs in 2010, but the failure of a substantial portion of the driving population to buckle up caused 3,350 unnecessary fatalities, 54,300 serious injuries, and cost society $14 billion in easily preventable injury related costs. Crashes in which at least one driver was identified as being distracted cost $46 billion in 2010. The report also includes data on the costs associated with motorcycle crashes, failure to wear motorcycle helmets, pedestrian crash, bicyclist crashes, and numerous different roadway designation crashes.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes was originally published in May 2014. Subsequent to its publication, a coding error was discovered in the SAS program that was used to aggregate costs to persons with multiple injuries. This error impacted estimates of medical care costs, lost work and household productivity, and insurance administrative and legal costs. After evaluating the potential impact of this error, the authors determined that it was large enough to warrant a revision to the base report. This revised report thus replaces the May 2014 report in its entirety.
  • Corporate Authors:

    National Center for Statistics and Analysis

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Blincoe, Lawrence
    • Miller, Ted R
    • Zaloshnja, Eduard
    • Lawrence, Bruce A
  • Publication Date: 2015-5


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Technical Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 304p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01530004
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT HS 812 013
  • Created Date: Jul 2 2014 9:50AM