Traffic Crashes Cost Twice as Much as Congestion

<p>A traffic safety study released March 5 by the AAA highlights the enormous costs of traffic crashes, in terms of lives and dollars, to the U.S. The cost exceeds that of congestion while deaths amount to 117 daily.</p>
March 7, 2008, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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" The study, "Crashes vs. Congestion: What's the Cost to Society?," conducted by Cambridge Systematics, was designed to bring traffic safety to the forefront."

The automobile association says that even though drivers and regional planning agencies focus on congestion costs, "the actual cost of crashes totals more than twice the cost of congestion. The human toll is also more daunting: 42,642 people died in automobile crashes in 2006, which equates to... almost five per hour."

"It's the equivalent of two jumbo jets crashing every week," says Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA's president and chief executive.

"In its study, the AAA determines the cost of crashes based on 11 "cost components," including lost income, property damage, medical expense,etc. The group calculated the cost of crashes for the same metropolitan areas examined in the Texas Transportation Institute's annual Urban Mobility Report that estimates the cost of traffic congestion."

While the total regional costs were highest for the most populated regions, with New York's being $18 billion, "researchers found that residents of smaller cities faced
a larger per-person burden." Crashes in the Little Rock-North Little Rock region in Arkansas cost $1.4 billion, or $2,258 per person," compared to $658 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"The organization also recommended that all states pass primary enforcement seat belt laws, which allow law enforcement officers to stop motorists if their only offense is failing to buckle up.

Legislators in 26 states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement laws. The remaining states have secondary enforcement laws, which allow tickets for seat belt violations only if motorists are stopped for other offenses. New Hampshire has no seat belt law for adults."

Thanks to Martin Dreiling

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Published on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 in The Wall Street Journial
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