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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Federal Traffic Safety Programs: An Overview

David Randall Peterman
Analyst in Transportation Policy

Driving is one of the riskiest activities the average American engages in. Deaths and serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. In 2011, 32,367 people were killed in police-reported motor vehicle crashes, and an estimated 2.22 million people were injured.1 Most of the people who die in traffic crashes are relatively young and otherwise healthy. As a result, traffic crashes rank third overall, after cancer and diseases of the heart, in years of life lost (that is, the difference between the age at death and life expectancy).

In addition to the emotional toll exacted by these deaths and injuries, traffic crashes impose a significant economic toll. The Department of Transportation (DOT) estimated that the annual cost of motor vehicle crashes in 2000 was $231 billion.
3 About one-third of the total cost came from the lost productivity of those killed and injured; about one-quarter from property damage; 15% from present and future medical costs; 11% from time lost due to congestion caused by crashes; and the remainder from the costs of insurance administration, legal services, workplace costs,and emergency services. While the number of traffic deaths has declined significantly since 2000, the estimated cost of crashes (adjusted for inflation) has remained within a comparable range, indicating an increase in the cost of each crash; estimates of the cost of traffic crashes in 2009 range from around $245 billion to $300 billion.

Date of Report: April 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: R43026
Price: $19.95

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