Motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. every year have an economic toll of almost $1 trillion.
That includes $277 billion in actual cost, and an estimated $594 billion in "harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries," a new
Studying crashes in the U.S. in 2010, NHTSA counted up 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles in "The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2010."
The sweeping report takes in a lot of ground, particularly in calculating the "quality of life" losses. Among the factors considered in the direct losses of $277 billion, the report said, were $93 billion in lost productivity, $76 billion in property damage, $35 billion in medical expenses, and $28 billion in the costs of traffic-related congestion -- like traffic jams and increased air pollution.
The report concluded that drunk driving, speeding and "distraction" were key contributors.
Drunk driving alone, the report said, accounted for 18% of the total economic loss from motor vehicle crashes, costing the economy as much as $199 billion in direct and quality-of-life losses.
Speeding accounted for 21% of the total economic loss, responsible for as much as $210 billion in costs.
Distraction contributed another 17%.
The study concluded that the use of seat belts prevented 12,500 fatalities and 308,000 serious injuries, the study said, as well as $69 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other costs related to auto crash injuries. But the failure to wear seat belts caused $72 billion in losses.