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NHTSA Report Reveals the High Cost of Car Accidents

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Traffic crashes cost the US hundreds of billions in 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a report that reveals the extraordinarily high cost of motor vehicle crashes. The report, titled "The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2019", details the expenses incurred in the wake of crashes that in 2019 resulted in 36,500 fatalities, 4.5 million injuries, and 23 million damaged vehicles. According to the NHTSA, the cost of these crashes was a staggering $340 billion.

“This report drives home just how devastating traffic crashes are for families and the economic burden they place on society,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator. “We need to use the safe system approach embraced in DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy to dramatically decrease the number and severity of crashes: safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and better post-crash care.”

Breaking down the NHTSA report

The data sources used in the report include the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, Crash Investigation Sampling System, and the Crash Report Sampling System, along with consumer survey data and in-car observation techniques.

The $340 billion price tag for motor vehicle crashes represents $1,035 for each of the 328 million people in the U.S. and 1.6% of the nation's real GDP in 2019. The report highlights that those not directly involved in the crashes paid three-quarters of the crash expenses, primarily through taxes and insurance premiums. For example, the report revealed that traffic crashes cost taxpayers $30 billion in 2019, equivalent to $230 in added taxes for each household in the U.S.

The losses include medical costs, lost productivity, legal and court costs, emergency services, insurance administration, congestion, property damage, and workplace losses, including reported and unreported crashes. When considering quality-of-life valuations, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2019 was nearly $1.4 trillion. The report also provides new data on the total value of seat belt use, which saved 404,000 lives and prevented $17.8 trillion in societal harm from 1975 to 2019.

Negligence is a common factor in motor vehicle crashes.

Risky driving behaviors such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving, and speeding often contribute to car accidents. For example, the NHTSA report found that alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 14,219 fatalities and $68.9 billion in economic costs, accounting for 20% of all crash costs. Likewise, distracted driving resulted in 10,546 deaths and $98.2 billion in economic costs, making up 29% of all crash costs. Finally, speed-related crashes cost $46 billion and accounted for 14% of all crash costs.

The NHTSA report highlights the need for accountability when people are injured or die in traffic crashes. Holding negligent drivers accountable through the civil justice system serves as a deterrent for future negligent behavior and helps maintain a safe and just society. By holding reckless drivers accountable for their actions, the civil justice system helps to ensure that everyone has a stake in safe and responsible driving, making the roads safer for everyone. Moreover, seeking accountability through the civil justice system forces negligent drivers and their insurance companies to pay for the damage they cause, so that the public does not have to carry that expense.

Contact a New Orleans car accident lawyer.

Unfortunately, the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, especially if it resulted from another party's negligence. In Louisiana, injured individuals typically only have a year to file a claim, which can make the process of seeking compensation feel like a race against time.

To ease the burden and ensure that the right to compensation is not lost, individuals involved in car accidents in New Orleans can turn to The Law Office of John S. Williams, LLC for help. With extensive experience handling car accident claims, Attorney John S. Williams offers personalized representation and strives to secure maximum compensation for clients. To see how an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

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