The economic impact of medical costs and productivity losses due to deaths and injuries in auto accidents reached more than $63 billion in 2015. This staggering toll is motivating safety officials around the country to look at ways to increase overall safety on our nation’s roads.

According to the National Safety Council, 40,100 people were killed last year in vehicle crashes. Though this fatality count was slightly lower than in 2016, when 40,327 people died in crashes, it was 6 percent higher than 2015 fatalities.

These numbers indicate the staggering impact of that such fatalities on families and friends across this country. In just a three-year period, more than 100,000 people are no longer on this earth due to a car crash.

What you may not think about though, are all those who are injured in auto accidents, and those numbers are astounding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), notes that for every individual killed in an accident, eight others are hospitalized with serious injuries, and nearly 100 are treated for less serious injuries and released from the hospital. So, using the most recent fatality numbers, this means in 2017:

  • 320,800 people were hospitalized due to injuries sustained in a car crash
  • Nearly 4 million people were treated in emergency rooms and released following a car accident

The financial toll is equally troubling. In 2015, the CDC noted that the economic impact of medical costs and productivity loss due to deaths and injuries in vehicle crashes was more than $63 billion. Though a bit dated, the CDC in 2013 highlighted each state’s financial burden due to auto accidents; that year in Colorado, medical and work loss costs for those killed in crashes topped $640 million, and this does not include the costs related to injuries. These statistics demonstrate that we still have a long way to go to make our roads safer.

Modest Investments Promise Big Results

When it comes to decreasing deaths and injuries due to accidents, and reducing the financial burden on people and states, the CDC has an interactive calculator that states can use to figure how much economic costs will decline if certain safety features are implemented. If you look at Colorado, the first thing you notice is that the calculator identifies safety measures the state is not implementing that could reduce fatalities and injuries, such as mandatory bicycle and motorcycle helmet laws and doing more to encourage seat belt use. The interactive research tool asks the user to plug in a proposed budget to implement these safety features; using that budget, it calculates lives saved and monetary benefits if stricter laws were enforced. A budget of $2 million, for example, produces pretty startling results. According to the CDC calculator, a $2 million investment by the state to improve some of its safety enforcement would result in 20 lives saved, 605 injuries prevented, and nearly $46 million in monetary benefits.

This tool emphasizes the fact that sometimes it doesn’t take much, financially or otherwise, to implement laws that save lives and prevent injuries. It would be great if every state would look at its laws to see where improvements can be made to makes our roads safer and reduce injuries and deaths due to accidents.

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