CDC Telebriefing: New Vital Signs Report

How can states prevent costly motor vehicle crashes?

Press Briefing Transcript

Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 1:00 p.m. ET

OPERATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. During the question and answer session, you may press star 1 to ask a question. Today’s conference is being recorded. I’ll turn the call over to Mr. Benjamin Haynes. You may begin, sir.

BENJAMIN HAYNES: Thank you, Shirley. And thank you all for joining us today on “vital signs report” on vital crash injuries. We are joined by Dr. Ileana Arias, wo will provide the opening remarks. Following those remarks, Dr. Arias, along with Dr. Gwen Bergen, the reports lead author and Erin Sauber-Schatz will take your questions. Now we’ll turn it over to Dr. Arias.

ILENA ARIAS: Thank you. And thank you all for joining us today to discuss this month’s “vital signs” report. As you know, each month we focus on the latest data about one of the critical health issues facing our nation, and more importantly, what can be done about it? Prevention of motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities is one of CDC’s winnable battles. And in support of that fight, today we’re going to discuss findings from a new CDC vital signs study on the health burden and the cost of nonfatal motor vehicle crash injuries in the U.S. We’ll share information about what can be done to prevent these crash injuries, and help keep everyone safe and secure on our roads, and thereby reduce the exorbitant bottom line crash of motor vehicle crash injuries. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury in the U.S. More than 2.5 million Americans went to the emergency department for crash injuries in 2012. And nearly 200,000 of these were then hospitalized. The burden of these crashes is not spread evenly across society, as you might imagine. Teens and young adults make up only about 20 percent of the population, but they account for almost 40 percent of crash injuries treated in emergency departments. And for adults, 80 years of age or older who are injured in car crashes, a third of them end up being hospitalized. That’s higher than any other age group. In addition to the physical pain and the emotional distress that impacts 7,000 people per day in our country who are injured, there’s also a heavy financial cost for individuals, for employers, the health care system and for society. Crash injuries that happened in 2012 told $18 billion in lifetime medical costs. These include the costs for follow up treatment, ambulance transportation, rehabilitation and prescription drugs. These crash injuries also totaled $33 billion in lifetime work loss costs, including lost expected employment earnings, lost fringe benefits and lost value of household work. We know that many of these crashes are preventable. And keeping people safe from injuries also helps to save on medical costs. So, for example, in 2009, passage of a primary seatbelt law, which means a police officer can pull a car over and ticket the driver or passenger for not wearing a seatbelt, increased seatbelt use and saved an estimated $36 million in hospital costs over a two-year period alone in Minnesota. Other state level interventions that can be used to reduce crashes and related injuries include improving child passenger safety with restraint laws that require car seat or booster seat use for children aged 8 and under or until they’re 57 inches tall, which is the recommended height for proper seatbelt fit. Also reducing drinking and driving by using sobriety check points and requiring ignition interlock for people convicted of drinking and driving, starting with their first conviction. And also improving teen driver safety through the use of comprehensive graduated driver licensing system. What we have found and know is that each of these strategies can save people from undue pain, loss productivity, time and medical costs. Thanks to the dedicated efforts or these dedicated efforts, crash injuries have declined in the past decade (Edited). There are almost 400,000 fewer emergency department visits, and about 5,700 fewer hospitalizations in 2012 compared to 2002. This decrease equals $1.7 billion (Edited) in avoided medical costs and $2.3 billion in avoided work loss costs. Although that is a lot and we’re very glad to celebrate that improvement, much more can be done, especially at the state level. States unfortunately may be unsure about which interventions will have the biggest impact on reducing crashes and related injuries and medical costs. And so to help with this, in collaboration or in conjunction with the release of the vital signs today, we are also releasing an interactive calculator that’s called motor vehicle PICCS, P-I-C-C-S, which stands for prioritizing intervention and cost calculator for state. The tool helps state decision makers prioritize and select from a suite of 12 effective motor vehicle injury prevention intervention. It’s designed to easily calculate the affected number of injuries prevented and lives saved at the state level, and importantly, the cost of implementation while taking into account available resources. So essentially, individuals can look at how many resources they have, how they can invest those resources and what the return on those investments would be so they can make informed decisions. Motor vehicle PICCS is available online now at calculator. There is information on that for obtaining technical assistance. We will be providing some training toward the end of this month, but in the meantime, reaching out to us is a good way of then getting any kind of help or information that you may need and navigating and using the tool. The bottom line, essentially, is that states can make smart investments based on data and by using proven interventions to save lives and money. Together we can reduce motor vehicle crash injuries, we can reduce their costs, and we can also reduce their impact on our families and our communities. So I thank you very much for your time and attention, and now would turn it over for any questions you may have.

BENJAMIN HAYNES: Shirley, we’re ready for questions.

OPERATOR: At this time we’re ready to begin the question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 and record your name clearly. Again, press star 1 to ask a question. And one moment, please, for our first question. At this time I’m showing no questions. Again, if you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 at this time. And one moment, please. And at this time I’m showing no questions.

ILEANA ARIS: Okay. Well, thank you very much. Again, the tool is available for you to intentionally play with it, experience it. And if there is any information we can provide on it, please feel free to reach out. Again, thank you very much for your checking in on vital signs as you always do, and especially on this one, which is a significant issue of importance not only to us, but to every state in this country, given the data that are available to us and continue to be available. So thank you very much.

BENJAMIN HAYNES: Thank you, dr. Arias. There will be a transcript available on the main CDC media page at If you have questions, you can call 404-639-3286 or e-mail

OPERATOR: Thank you. And this does conclude today’s conference. We thank you for your participation. At this time you may disconnect your line.


Page last reviewed: October 9, 2014