Car insurance isn’t just mandatory in almost every state, it’s part of being a responsible citizen. So thank you, if you already have it or if you’re here to shop for car insurance. Now take your good citizenship to the next level by being a safe driver. You’ll save yourself and the rest of us a ton of money. We’re not just talking about safe-driver insurance discounts, either, although those are a definite benefit. The collective price tag of car crashes ran up a national bill of over $99 billion in 2010, according to a Traffic Injury Prevention, a report released this past August by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About $17 million of that went to direct medical care; the rest was assessed as lost productivity. That’s $500 a piece for every licensed driver in the U.S., including you!
More Sobering Stats from the CDC
- Every 12 minutes somebody dies on a U.S. roadway in a car crash – about 40,000 people a year
- 12,000 deaths are alcohol related -- one every 45 minutes
- Every 10 seconds somebody is injured in a car crash and taken to an emergency room – about 270,000 people a year are hospitalized
- The annual cost of vehicle-related fatal and non fatal injuries for adults 25-64 (the bulk of U.S. drivers) is $58 billion; young adults 20-24 run up the second largest tab at $17 billion, followed by teens 15-19 at $14 billion
Causes and Cures
The CDC report points to four major causes for the increased cost of car crashes:
- Failure to use seat belts
- Failure to use safety seats for children
- Alcohol and drug use
- Inexperienced teen drivers
They also suggest some steps to correct the problems, but being a government-funded body, the CDC cures typically focus on government solutions involving more laws or spending more tax dollars. Some of their recommendations include: mandating ignition-locking devices that activate if your blood alcohol count is too high; more sobriety check points; tax-funded education programs; and limiting the hours teens can driver or the number of teen passengers they can carry without an adult supervisor. We favor measures that rely more on personal responsibility, like designated drivers, enrolling teens in safe driving courses, and enforcing the laws already on the books about safety seats and restraints.