According to AAA, the annual average cost of auto accidents in the United States is $164.2 billion. The U.S. department of transportation estimates that over 40,000 Americans a year die on our roadways and the cost to each American citizen is over $1000 per year. There is a considerable cost in taxes which pay for medical bills for drivers who are uninsured and for auto accident related litigation in state court systems.
Leading Causes of Accidents
The two leading causes of accidents are cell phone use and speeding. Impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs is another major factor in accidents. Although most states have passed laws making cell phone use while driving a traffic offense, many people have installed blue tooth or hands free devices in their cars so they can talk undetected by police. Studies indicate that talking on hands free phone devices is as much of a hazard as using a regular cell phone since the accidents are caused by driver distraction.
Public Health Challenge
The federal government has named the auto accident rate in the United States a public health challenge. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 25. This is why teen car insurance is so expensive. The cost of medical bills and government disability benefits for those disabled in accidents is significant. While seat belts, air bags and impact absorbent designs have reduced the number of fatalities and serious injuries, auto accidents still impose a serious burden on the nation’s police and emergency services, hospitals and medical facilities.
American drivers have a casual attitude toward traffic accidents and fatalities, and AAA hoped to focus attention on the problem by pointing out the annual average cost of auto accidents to each citizen. This cost is borne by every American whether or not they drive a car. The odds of a driver in the U.S. being involved in an accident in one year is about one in four. Edmunds.com recently performed a study that indicated that nearly 90% of auto accidents were due to driver error.
Improve Drivers Not Cars
According to the Edumund’s study, it is more cost effective to participate in a safe driving course than to buy a car with special safety features. While innovative safety features are credited with reducing the number of deaths and injuries in car accidents, they have not reduced the number of accidents. Auto insurance companies have recognized the benefits of driving courses and offer discount car insurance to drivers who complete the courses citing that those drivers are less likely to be involved in an accident.
Reducing the Average Cost of Auto Accidents
The only way to reduce the annual average cost of auto accidents is to reduce the number of accidents that occur each year on American roadways. Innovative car designs including collision avoidance systems and rear view cameras can help, but indications are that more accidents are prevented by safe driving habits than by safe cars. In fact, some drivers become complacent trusting the car to protect them in accidents instead of concentrating on avoiding accidents.
The staggering cost of auto accidents to the public has both the federal and state governments seeking ways to reduce the numbers and improve highway safety. The truth that auto accidents kill more children each year than all childhood cancers combined should move drivers to improve their skills. The only way to reduce the staggering annual average cost of auto accidents is to reduce the number of accidents.
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