Motor vehicle crash-related deaths in the United States resulted in an estimated $41 billion in medical and work loss costs in a year, according to estimates released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Half of this cost ($20.4 billion) was in 10 states, the report says.
CDC's data analysis found that the 10 states with the highest medical and work loss costs were California ($4.16 billion), Texas ($3.50 billion), Florida ($3.16 billion), Georgia ($1.55 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.52 billion), North Carolina ($1.50 billion), New York ($1.33 billion), Illinois ($1.32 billion), Ohio ($1.23 billion), and Tennessee ($1.15 billion).
These cost findings are based on 2005 data, which is the most recent year for which comprehensive data on costs associated with crash deaths is available. The study was not configured to develop an explanation for the variation in state costs.
"Deaths from motor vehicle crashes are preventable," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Seat belts, graduated driver's license programs, child safety seats, and helmet use save lives and reduce health care costs."
CDC is releasing new fact sheets highlighting state-based costs of crash deaths, to coincide with the May 11 launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2011 to 2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety, a period of enhanced focus on protecting lives on the world's roads.
CDC also found the cost related to crash deaths among children and teenagers from birth to 19 years old was nearly $856 million. The highest percentage of costs related to children and teen crash deaths was seen in Vermont (34 percent, $25 million), and the lowest was in Nevada (17 percent, $66 million). Despite the higher percentage in Vermont, its cost is lower due to the much lower total cost of injury.
"It's tragic to hear that anyone dies on our nation's roads. But it's especially so when the person who loses his or her life is a child or teenager," said Linda Degutis, Dr. P.H., M.S.N., director, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Child passenger safety laws and comprehensive graduated driver licensing laws are proven to protect young lives. We encourage states to strengthen and enforce these laws to help keep more of our young people safe."
To prevent crash-related deaths and reduce medical and work loss costs, CDC's Injury Center recommends that states consider the following strategies:
- Primary seat belt laws, which allow motorists to be stopped and cited for not wearing seat belts. Seat belts reduce the risk of death to those riding in the front seat by about half.
- Strong child passenger safety policies, which require children to be placed in age- and size-appropriate child safety and booster seats while riding in vehicles.
- Comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems, which are proven to reduce teen crashes. GDL systems help new drivers gain experience under lower-risk conditions by granting driving privileges in stages. The most comprehensive GDL systems have been associated with up to 40 percent decreases in crashes among 16-year-old drivers.
- Universal motorcycle helmet laws, which require riders of all ages to wear helmets. Helmet use can reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by more than one-third and reduce the risk of brain injury by 69 percent.