The high cost of pedestrian crashes

Car crashes are costly, and collisions involving pedestrians result in $14 billion in economic costs each year, according to a study released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The review of 2010 crash data from across the country, titled “The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010,” reveals the many costs associated with car crashes. The study calculated medical expenses, property damage and legal costs, as well as lost productivity and congestion costs associated with added fuel use and negative environmental impacts. Considering these factors and others, the total economic cost of motor vehicles crashes in the U.S. in 2010 was $277 billion, according to the study. Drinking drivers caused 18 percent of the economic loss, speeding was found to create 21 percent of the cost, and distracted driving produced 17 percent of the cost. About $200 billion, almost three-quarters of the total cost, is paid for by people who are not involved in the crashes but pay insurance premiums, taxes and congestion-related costs as a result of them.

Although much of the study is devoted to issues around alcohol use, speeding, distracted driving and use of seat belts, the study does take a brief look at the costs of crashes involving pedestrians. Of the 32,999 people killed in motor-vehicle related crashes in 2010, 4,372 were pedestrians. In addition, 110,000 pedestrians were injured that year. The $14 billion cost of pedestrian crashes represent 5 percent of the total economic cost of crashes.

NHTSA previously studied the cost of motor vehicle crashes using data from 2000. Fatalities and injuries have declined since then, due to safer vehicles and increased seat belt usage. Economic costs increased over the past decade because of inflation, however. Authors of the study state that the purpose of the study was “to place in perspective the economic losses and societal harm that result from these crashes, and to provide information to government and private sector officials for use in structuring programs to reduce or prevent these losses.”