Crashes vs. Congestion - What's The Cost to Society?

Groundbreaking AAA report shows traffic crashes cost American motorists

$164.2 billion per year

Mar 05, 2008, 00:00 ET from AAA

    WASHINGTON, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The societal cost of
 crashes is a staggering $164.2 billion annually, nearly two and a half
 times greater than the $67.6 billion price tag for congestion, according to
 a new report released today by AAA.
     (Logo: )
     The report, "Crashes vs. Congestion: What's the Cost to Society?,"
 demonstrates that traffic safety issues warrant increased attention from
 the public and policymakers, particularly as Congress prepares to
 reauthorize federal transportation programs in 2009.
     "Most Americans will be surprised to learn that motor vehicle crashes
 cost more than the congestion they face on their daily commute to work,"
 said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. "Great work has been done
 by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) to quantify the costs of
 congestion, raise awareness for the problem and offer solutions. We feel
 safety deserves a similar focus."
     According to the study conducted by Cambridge Systematics, the $164.2
 billion cost for crashes equates to an annual per person cost of $1,051,
 compared to $430 per person annually for congestion. These safety costs
 include medical, emergency and police services, property damage, lost
 productivity, and quality of life, among other things.
     The report calculates the costs of crashes for the same metropolitan
 areas covered by the annual Urban Mobility Report conducted by TTI. In
 every metropolitan area studied, from very large to small, the results
 showed crash costs exceeded congestion. For very large urban areas (more
 than 3 million), crash costs are nearly double those of congestion. Those
 costs rise to more than seven times congestion costs in small urban areas
 (less than 500,000) where congestion is less of a challenge.
     "Nearly 43,000 people die on the nation's roadways each year," said
 Darbelnet. "Yet, the annual tally of motor vehicle-related fatalities
 barely registers as a blip in most people's minds. It's time for motor
 vehicle crashes to be viewed as the public health threat they are. If there
 were two jumbo jets crashing every week, the government would ground all
 planes until we fixed the problem. Yet, we've come to accept this sort of
 death toll with car crashes."
     The report includes several recommendations to improve safety,
 including support for a national safety goal of cutting surface
 transportation fatalities in half by 2025, as recommended by the National
 Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.
     For additional information and to download a full copy of the report,
     As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization,
 AAA provides nearly 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial
 and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the
 not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the
 safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the
 Internet at
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