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Costs of Transportation-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States, 2005

In the next 10 seconds, someone in the United States will be injured in a car crash and taken to an emergency department for treatment. In the next 12 minutes, someone will die in a car crash on U.S. roads. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among people ages 5 to 34 in the United States, and a leading cause of injury among all ages. The economic impact of transportation-related deaths and injuries is significant; medical and work loss costs for deaths and emergency department-treated nonfatal injuries exceeded $90 billion in 2005. Examining the numbers of transportation-related deaths, injuries, and their associated costs helps us understand the true burden that they place on society.

Total Combined Lifetime Medical and Work Loss Costs of Transportation-Related Deaths and Nonfatal Injuries for All Ages by Sex, United States, 2005*

Bar chart: total combined lifetime medical and work loss costs of transportation-related deaths and injuries for all ages by sex, United States, 2005. Costs among males ($64 billion) were more than double those of females ($26 billion).

  • In 2005, the total medical and work loss costs associated with transportation-related deaths and injuries among males ($64 billion) were more than double those of females ($26 billion).

*Deaths include motor vehicle traffic, other pedal cyclist, and other pedestrian deaths. Nonfatal injuries include nonfatal hospitalizations and emergency department visits - treated and released for motor vehicle occupant, motorcyclist, pedal cyclist, and pedestrian injuries.

See related pages for more cost data


Cost estimates comprise total lifetime medical (e.g., medical treatment, rehabilitation) and work loss (e.g. loss wages and accompanying benefits) costs combined by value of the dollar in 2005. Further details on the definitions of these costs and methods for calculating unit cost estimates for injury deaths, nonfatal injury hospitalizations, and nonfatal ED-treated and released injuries are provided in a methods report  by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Estimates presented here show an incomplete picture of the overall cost of motor vehicle-related injury to society, because the focus is only on motor vehicle-related injury deaths and nonfatal injury hospitalizations and ED-treated and released injuries and the physical consequences (for example, medical and work loss costs). In instance, medical costs for outpatient and physician office visits are not included.  Other costs to society that extend beyond the physical consequences also are not included in these estimates.  Those costs include, but are not limited to, disability, mental/emotional anguish of surviving family member or co-workers, property damage, lowered property values, community fear, law enforcement, judicial, and litigation costs. Cost estimates are based on 2005 U.S. prices. They reflect costs that are representative of economic characteristics nationally, and represent the most current data available at the time unit cost estimates were calculated.  There is now a new Cost of Injury Reports module in CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, which allows for computing cost estimates on fatal and nonfatal injuries for many different causes and types of injuries.



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