Highway crash costs in the U.S. have risen by 20 percent to $277 billion in the most recent year for which the data has been finalized, 2010. That amounts to roughly $897 per U.S. citizen.
"No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, according to The Detroit News
"While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, today's report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events."
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 300-page report released Thursday recorded a total of 33,000 deaths and 3.9 million persons injured in 2010 as the result of a car crash. Over 3,350 people were killed and 54,300 were seriously injured unnecessarily because they were not wearing a seatbelt.
"Seat belt non-use represents an enormous lost opportunity for injury prevention," the study found, The Associated Press reported
On top of the $277 billion in economic costs, the NHTSA estimated at least $594 billion in harm from the loss of life, pain, and decreased quality of life due to injuries.
According to USA Today
, auto club AAA estimated in a 2011 report that fatal crashes cost on average $6 million. That report included 11 categories in its calculation of loss: property damage; lost earnings; loss of household activities; medical costs; emergency services; travel delays; vocational rehabilitation; lost time at work; administrative costs; legal costs; pain and lost quality of life.
The report also stated that alcohol-related driving accounted for 23 percent of the damage — $199 billion — and distracted driving (which includes but is not limited to cell phone usage) accounted for 15 percent ($129 billion).
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