Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Traffic Accidents Exact a Heavy Toll, Federal Study Finds

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Traffic Accidents Exact a Heavy Toll, Federal Study Finds

Article excerpt

Motor vehicle crashes are hitting Americans squarely in the pocketbook, according to a new federal study that found traffic accidents in the year 2010 resulted in nearly $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm.

The study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that crashes can lead to productivity losses, property damage, medical costs, increased traffic congestion, legal costs and the need for expensive emergency medical services.

"No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement.

"While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, (the study) clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny."

The study found that straight economic losses from the accidents amounted to $277 billion, or $897 for every U.S. citizen. There were nearly 33,000 fatalities, 3.9 million nonfatal injuries and almost 24 million damaged vehicles in 2010, according to the report.

Other findings included:

* Alcohol consumption remains a major cause of vehicular crashes. Alcohol-related crashes resulted in 13,323 traffic deaths, 430,000 nonfatal injuries, and $59.4 billion in economic losses that year.

* Crashes involving excessive speed resulted in 10,536 fatalities, 800,000 nonfatal injuries and damage to 3 million vehicles in crashes that resulted only in property damage.

* More than 3,350 people were killed and 54,300 more were seriously injured because they weren't buckled up with seat belts. The cost to society here was $13.8 billion.

* The economic cost of vehicular accidents, the report concluded, was the equivalent of 1.9 percent of the gross domestic product in 2010.

The societal harm, such as the lost quality of life, was measured as $870.8 billion, or roughly three times the economic losses alone, the study found.

The study was issued at a time when actual motor vehicle fatalities have been on a gradual decline, and when Americans as a group generally have been driving less than in years past.

For example, Missouri traffic deaths last year reached their lowest levels since 1947, according to state highway safety officials.

Q. Has the intersection of Hanley and Manchester roads ever had a crosswalk light and, if so, how long has it been since there was a crosswalk light at this intersection? …

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