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Auto Crashes Cost Almost $300 Billion Per Year

The economic impact of traffic crashes on the nation is both overwhelming and far-reaching.

The annual societal cost of traffic crashes is $299.5 billion, more than three times the $97.7 billion cost of congestion, according AAA’s recent “Crashes vs. Congestion–What’s the Cost to Society?” report.

The overall cost of crashes equals to $1,522 per person annually, compared to an annual cost of $590 per person for congestion.

The costs of crashes are based on the Federal Highway Administration’s comprehensive costs for traffic fatalities and injuries that assign a dollar value to a variety of components. These components include medical and emergency services, lost earnings and household production, property damage, and diminished quality of life, among other things.

The report also calculates the costs of crashes for the same metropolitan areas covered by the annual Urban Mobility Report conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute. The results indicate that crash costs exceed congestion in every metropolitan area studied, from very large to small.

For example, crash costs are nearly doubled than those of congestion in very large urban areas with populations more than three million. Those costs rise to nearly six times congestion costs in small urban areas where populations are less than 500,000 and motorists face less congested conditions.

The study, conducted for AAA by Cambridge Systematics, further underscores the importance of a long-term, multi-year federal transportation bill that will provide the necessary and sustained investments that lead to better and safer roads.

“Almost 33,000 people–635 per week–die on U.S. roadways each year and that’s unacceptable,” says AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “While the decline in traffic fatalities in recent years signifies a positive trend, our work is far from over. Continued progress will require active and focused leadership, improved communication and collaboration, and an investment in data collection and evaluation to make sure we’re addressing the nation’s most serious safety challenges.”

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