The numbers compile various costs with any conceivable connection to car accidents, including productivity losses, congestion costs, legal and court costs, and “insurance administration” costs, among others.
“This includes $277 billion in economic costs – nearly $900 for each person living in the United States based on calendar year 2010 data — and $594 billion in harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries,” the agency said in a statement.
Speeding and driving too fast for conditions were cited as the biggest problems, accounting for 21 percent of the total economic loss, followed closely by the costs of accidents involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 or higher. Distracted driving rounded out the top three, receiving blame for 17 percent of the total economic costs.
“This new report underscores the importance of our safety mission and why our efforts and those of our partners to tackle these important behavioral issues and make vehicles safer are essential to our quality of life and our economy,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman.
The number of annual fatalities per million vehicle miles traveled has fallen from over 20 in the early 1920s to around five in the ’60s. Safety continued to improve in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, eventually bringing the number of deaths per million miles down to just over 1.1 in 2010 through 2012.