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Feds: Economic and societal costs from car accidents enormous

Undoubtedly, serious car accidents take a major toll on the victims and the victims’ families. But as a new study from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, car accidents also negatively affect the public at large through economic and societal losses.

Although the U.S. secretary of transportation acknowledged that a price tag cannot be placed on a human life taken or injuries sustained in a car accident, the study attempted to uncover the huge economic toll of motor vehicle accidents in the United States.

The study was based on motor vehicle accident data from 2010, which involved close to 33,000 fatalities, 4 million non-fatal injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles.

The NHTSA reported that Americans lose about $871 billion per year in economic loss and societal harm, which considers loss of life and injuries sustained by car accident victims. The secretary of transportation said that the alarming figure validates the amount of money the government spends trying to prevent motor vehicle accidents.

The report indicated that drunk driving accidents are the most costly, making up about 23 percent of the societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes overall. Accidents caused by speeding drivers, distracted drivers, and those involving pedestrians and bicyclists also resulted in significant economic and societal costs, the report indicated.

As the secretary of transportation alluded to, it can be very difficult to attempt to place a monetary value on a life lost or the decreased quality of life one experiences due to injuries sustained in a car accident. Additionally, no amount of money can ever take away the pain of losing a loved one in an accident.

However, after a serious or fatal accident occurs, a monetary award is one of the only methods available to compensate accident victims and help hold negligent parties responsible for their behavior so that similar accidents can be prevented in the future.

Source: Click On Detroit, "NHTSA: Car crashes have $871 billion impact on economy, society," May 29, 2014

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