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.
Hundreds of Montanans are killed each year in preventable motor vehicle crashes. Montana 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.
- Strong child passenger safety policies that require age- and size-appropriate child safety and booster seats.
- 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.
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.
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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