Americans are almost as likely to be hurt or killed by a driver by texting and other distractions as by a drunk driver.
Distracted drivers were responsible for 17 percent of the economic cost of all traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2010, the latest year for available data, according to a report for the National Highway Transportation Association. That’s an average of $148 for every man, woman and child in the U.S., the report said.
“Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $129 billion, or 15 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor-vehicle crashes,” the report said.
Only drunk driving and speeding cost the U.S. economy more, weighing in at 18 percent of economic output and 21 percent, respectively.
In total, “the price tag for crashes comes at a heavy burden for Americans at $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm. This includes $277 billion in economic costs – nearly $900 for each person living in the United States based on calendar year 2010 data — and $594 billion in harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries,” the NHTSA said.
Perhaps not surprisingly, 11 percent of all drivers under age 20 responsible for fatalities were classified as distracted, and that category constituted the largest group of distracted drivers.
Almost 20 percent of those distracted drivers were using cell phones, the report said.
“These estimates are almost certainly conservative because they are based only on identified distraction cases. Police records frequently fail to identify whether or not distraction was involved in the crash,” according to the agency.
Here are some other statistics from the NHTSA report.
· Failure to use seat belt represents an enormous lost opportunity for injury prevention. In 2010 alone, more than 3,350 people were killed and 54,300 were seriously injured because they failed to use their seat belts, costing society $13.8 billion.
· Speed-related crashes are associated with 10,536 fatalities, 800,000 nonfatal injuries and damage to 3 million vehicles in property-damage-only crashes. This represents 32 percent of all fatalities; 20 percent of all nonfatal injuries, and 16 percent of all property-damage-only crashes.
· Alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 13,323 fatalities, 430,000 nonfatal injuries, and $59.4 billion in economic costs in 2010, accounting for 21 percent of all crash costs.
· Some 3.9 million people were injured in 13.6 million motor-vehicle crashes in 2010, including 32,999 fatalities. Twenty-four percent of these injuries occurred in crashes that were not reported to police.
· Approximately 9 percent of all motor-vehicle crash costs are paid from public revenues. Federal revenues accounted for 5 percent, while states and localities paid for approximately 3 percent.
· Present and future medical costs due to injuries occurring in 2000 were $34.9 billion, representing 13 percent of the total costs. Medical costs accounted for 24 percent of costs from non-fatal injuries.
· Total property damage costs for all crash types (fatal, injury, and property damage only [PDO]) totaled $76.1 billion, and accounted for 28 percent of all economic costs.
· Each critically injured survivor (using the MAIS 5 scale) cost an average of $1.1 million. Medical costs and lost productivity accounted for 82 percent of the cost for this most serious level of non-fatal injury.
· Crashes in which at least one driver was identified as being distracted resulted in 3,267 fatalities, 735,000 nonfatal injuries and damaged 3.3 million vehicles in property-damage-only crashes in 2010. This represents about 10 percent of all motor-vehicle fatalities and 18 percent of all nonfatal crashes. These crashes cost $45.8 billion in 2010, roughly 17 percent of all economic costs from motor-vehicle crashes.