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Cost of deaths from motor vehicle crashes

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of children, teens, and young adults (ages 5 to 34) and among the top ten causes of death for all ages. Over 30,000 people are killed in crashes each year in the United States. In 2005, in addition to the impact on victims’ families and friends, crash deaths resulted in $41 billion annually in medical and work loss costs. It’s important to remember that crashes are preventable. Using effective programs and policies, we can reduce the number of injuries and deaths and their costs. 

This chart shows that the total fatal crash cost in Colorado was $623 million. Of this amount, $5 million was medical costs and $618 million was work loss costs.

By Type of Road User: In Colorado, $195 million, or 31% of costs, were related to deaths of motor vehicle occupants. $78 million, or 13% of costs, were related to deaths of motorcyclists. $12 million, or 2% of costs, were related to bicyclist deaths, and $54 million, or 9% of costs, were related to pedestrian deaths, and $285 million, or 46% of costs, were related to unspecified types of road users. The cost for bicyclists is based on fewer than 20 deaths and may be unstable.

By Age Group: In Colorado, $29 million, or 5% of costs, was for deaths of children ages 0-14. $82 million, or 13%, was related to deaths of teens ages 15-19, and $277 million, or 44% of costs, was for deaths of young adults ages 20-34, and $226 million, or 36% of costs, was for deaths of adults ages 35-64. Older adults, ages 65 and above, made up 2% of costs, or $10 million.

Taking action can save lives

Hundreds of Coloradans are killed each year in preventable motor vehicle crashes. Colorado can consider the following evidence-based strategies that are proven to save lives and money:

  • Primary enforcement seat belt law that covers all seating positions.
  • Comprehensive graduated drivers licensing (GDL) system to help young drivers gain experience under lower-risk conditions.
  • Universal motorcycle helmet law that requires all riders to wear helmets.

Crash-related death costs for states in your region

Image of states in the region listed on the chart

State Population Cost
Colorado 4.7 million $623 million
Montana 0.9 million $205 million
North Dakota 0.6 million $111 million
South Dakota 0.8 million $156 million
Utah 2.5 million $281 million
Wyoming 0.5 million $137 million


How can costs due to motor vehicle crashes be reduced?

The best way to reduce costs due to crash-related deaths is to prevent crashes. Effective strategies for preventing crashes include graduated drivers licensing laws, sobriety checkpoints, and ignition interlocks for those convicted of driving while intoxicated. 

The next best way to reduce costs is to prevent injuries when crashes do happen. Among the proven ways to prevent injuries during a crash are increasing child safety seat and booster seat use through distribution and education programs, increasing seat belt use through enacting and enforcing primary seat belt laws, and increasing helmet use through comprehensive motorcycle helmet laws. 

Working together, we can help keep people safe on the road—every day.

Why are work loss costs so high for motor vehicle crash deaths? 

Work loss costs are the total estimated salary, fringe benefits, and value of household work that an average person—of the same age and sex as the person who died—would be expected to earn over the remainder of his or her lifetime. Motor vehicle crash deaths disproportionately affect younger people, who have the potential to contribute to the workforce for many years. Therefore, when a younger person dies, the result is a higher work loss cost. 

Where can I get more information on these cost estimates?

The costs used in this fact sheet came from CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), which is an online, interactive system that provides reports of injury-related data. 


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