Traffic crashes kill tens of thousands of people and injure millions more every year in the United States. These tragic events lead to substantial financial costs on loved ones burdened with emotional loss and on the businesses, governments and insurers that make up the larger community.
Although the economic impact of an injury or fatal crash cannot compare to the human grief involved, it is useful in measuring how one collision affects an entire community on the financial level. Used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the societal perspective captures the full scope of collision costs.
Over the last seven years, the total cost of a fatal traffic accident has been on the rise. Following an 87% increase from $3.2 million in 2005 to $6 million in 2009, the cost of just one accident continued to climb, reaching an estimated $6.4 million in 2012. When adjusted for inflation, this results in a 100 percent increase from 2005.
Injury crash costs follow the same upward trend. The community’s cost of an injury crash rose 85 percent from $68,170 in 2005 to $126,000 in 2009. With inflation factored in, the cost climbed to $134,555 in 2012, a 97 percent increase from 2005.
These climbing costs add to the already obvious safety reasons prompting communities to set better standards on roadways and drive down collisions. An important part in reducing fatal crashes is positively changing the behavior of drivers. Some communities are ahead of the curve with strict distracted driving laws, harsh consequences for intoxicated driving, and the presence of automated enforcement technology at intersections.
Red-light and speed safety cameras are one of the most effective ways to get drivers to slow down, stop on red and be more conscious on the road. Safety cameras are proven to reduce violations and fatal collisions. According to research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the rate of fatal red-light running crashes was 24 percent lower in cities with red-light safety cameras – from 2004-08 – than it would have been without cameras. IIHS determined that if cameras were operating in all major U.S. cities during the same time period, more than 800 lives could have been saved.
The reduction of fatal and injury traffic collisions not only saves lives but leads to real cost-saving benefits for U.S. communities. For more on where each state stands on highway safety laws see the annual 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) helps save lives and protect communities by demonstrating how red-light safety cameras can improve driver behavior.