The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had added up the cost of motor vehicle crashes and it's a whopping $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm.
Economic losses came to $277 billion or an average of $900 a year per American, and the remaining $544 billion in the form of loss of life and pain and decreased quality of life resulting from injuries.
"No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. "While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, [the] report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events."
The study called "The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes" used data from 2010 to arrive at its figures, which were based on 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles. In figuring the price tag, the study considered criteria that included property damage, medical and rehabilitation costs, congestion costs, legal and court cases, productivity losses, emergency services, insurance administration costs and costs to employers.
Crashes involving a speeding vehicle accounted for 21 percent of the economic loss and cost the nation $59 billion collectively, the study found. When quality of life factors are thrown into the mix, the price rises to $210 billion or 24 percent of the societal harm.
Not far behind was the devastation caused by drunk drivers. Crashes involving tipsy drivers accounted for 18 percent of the economic loss and cost the nation $49 billion. When the cost of treating injuries and diminished quality of life suffered by victims, the cost balloons to $199 billion and represent 23 percent of societal harm.
Other leading causes included distraction, which accounted for 17 percent of total economic lost and had a bill of $46 billion. With quality of life included, the numbers rise to $129 billion and 15 percent of harm to society.
Crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for $19 billion in losses and contributed to $90 billion in societal harm.
"We want Americans to live long and productive lives, but vehicle crashes all too often make that impossible," said David Friedman, acting administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "This new report underscores the importance of our safety mission and why our efforts and those of our partners to tackle these important behavioral issues and make vehicles safer are essential to our quality of life and our economy."