Traffic Accidents: The True Costs

trafficMayhem on the Highway

The American public would not tolerate a situation where there was a daily crash of a airplane that caused 100 fatalities and over 300 serious injuries. That is especially the case if one-third of those hundreds of crashes were due to drunken pilots and another 25 percent were attributable to the pilots flying their craft too fast.

Such a situation is not, unfortunately, a fantasy scenario. The only change necessary to make those numbers real is to play them out on our nation’s highways. An average of 102 Americans die in vehicle accidents every day, 365 days a year – which equates to one every 14 minutes. It is estimated that over 20 million people have died in the U.S. in such accidents in the past century, several times the total of all deaths in all the wars our nation has fought.

While these personal deaths and injuries are the greatest costs of vehicle accidents, the financial burdens are also quite great. According to a study by the American Automobile Association in 2008, the annual costs of these accidents include:

  • $3.2 million for each fatality (more than 32,000 annually)
  • $68,110 for each serious injury (more than 2 million annually)
  • $166 billion as the total annual loss when all costs are added up

As a nation and here in Nevada, we have become somewhat numb to the consequences of this carnage. Worse still, analysts and experts tell us that 80 percent of all auto accidents are preventable. While we would never accept such negligence in pilots, we tolerate it for some reason in our habits and those of our fellow drivers.

Studies repeatedly show that a number of simple changes in driving habits would significantly lower the dangers we face on the roads. For example:

  • Alcohol-impaired drivers were directly responsible for 9,878 fatalities in 2011 alone. To put that in context, that is double the fatalities in a decade of fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also many times the total of all mass shooting fatalities in the past two decades.
  • Excess speeds are attributed as the cause for 10,395 traffic deaths in 2010. Speeding was a significant factor in 32 percent of all crashes that resulted in a fatality and costs of more than $40 billion a year.
  • Distracted driving, fatigue, running red lights and failure to use seat belts are all contributing factors to thousands of other deaths and serious injuries.

Protecting Your Rights

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident that results in death or serious injury, you may have a right to financial recovery for your losses. An experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer will advise you on your options and the correct steps to take if the negligence of another has caused harm in a vehicle accident. However, it is important to act to protect your rights.