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How Much Do Vehicle Crashes Cost the Economy?

It is common knowledge that vehicle crashes can be expensive. Cars must be repaired or replaced, there are often medical bills and lost wages that must be accounted for, and damage to personal items and other property must also be sorted out.

A recent study, conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), puts the total annual economic burden of vehicle crashes into startling perspective - and the costs are staggering.

Auto Crashes as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross Domestic Product is a term which refers to the total production of a country in one year, including all goods produced and services rendered. The U.S. GDP is estimated at approximately $15-$17 trillion. Of that figure, the economic damages associated with auto crashes account for about $277 billion, or almost 2 percent of the entire GDP of the country.


Auto Crashes in Dollars

According to Department of Transportation figures every year auto crashes result in approximately $871 billion in economic losses. $594 billion of that figure is from so-called non-economic losses, which include pain and suffering, decreased quality of life, and damages associated with loss of life. The remaining $277 billion, as mentioned above, results from economic damages, which include damage to vehicles and property, medical bills, and all other losses which have a specific dollar amount associated with them.

Drunken Driving and Speeding are Still a Major Drag on the Economy

The DOT reports that drunken driving crashes cost the country about $50 billion every year. After decades of public service campaigns, aimed at eliminating drunken driving deaths, approximately 10,000 people still die in crashes related drunken driving every year.

Speeding results in crashes that cost the country about $59 billion per year. Together with drunken driving these two factors combine to cost the country nearly $110 billion per year. That equates to a cost of approximately $349 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.

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