Report: cost of motor vehicle accidents high, easily avoidable

A recent NHTSA report details the economic and noneconomic costs of motor vehicle accidents.

When a motor vehicle accident occurs, there are considerable costs involved. Most obviously, there are economic costs such as property damage to the vehicle. However, there are also other costs that everybody in society ends up paying. According to a recent report, these costs are even higher than the economic costs.

The report, entitled The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 was recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the report, the agency laid out the economic and other costs of motor vehicle accidents during 2010. The report noted that during this year, there were approximately $871 billion in losses caused by motor vehicle accidents. Of this, only $277 billion came from economic losses such as damage to the vehicle itself.

Although the economic costs were significant, they were only a fraction of the noneconomic costs, which constituted the remaining $594 billion. Noneconomic costs include pain and suffering and other intangible losses caused by motor vehicle crashes. According to the report, everyone, even those that were not directly involved in the accident, pays a significant amount of these costs. The report estimated that about $200 billion of the noneconomic costs are paid by everyone through higher taxes and increased insurance premiums to cover emergency service costs and insurance administrative expenses necessitated by each accident.

Poor driving is root cause

Interestingly, the report also noted that most of the high economic and noneconomic costs could be completely avoided if motorists simply practiced better driving habits. It is estimated that 56 percent of economic losses and 62 percent of noneconomic costs were generated because of widespread risky driving.

Specifically, the bad habit that was the most expensive was driving while intoxicated. According to the report, drunk driving accidents were responsible for $199 billion, representing 23 percent of noneconomic costs and 18 percent of economic losses.

Aside from drunk driving, speeding was also a leading cause of costs, responsible for 21 percent and 24 percent of the economic and noneconomic costs respectively. Distracted driving, such as talking on a cellphone while behind the wheel, followed speeding as a generator of costs. This easily avoided bad habit constituted 17 percent of economic losses and 15 percent of noneconomic costs.

An attorney can help

Those injured in car accidents often face high medical bills, loss of wages and other costs. Unfortunately, as the report noted, many of these "accidents" are caused by driver negligence, such as the poor habits listed above. Under Missouri law, if a negligent driver injures you, you have the right to recover compensation for the economic and noneconomic losses that you incur because of the accident.

If you are ever in this situation, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is in your best interest. An attorney can investigate the cause of your accident and ensure that the responsible party is held accountable under the law.

Keywords: motor vehicle accidents