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How Auto Crashes Affect Local Economies

The data is dismal: auto crashes were a leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the United States in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, more than 32,000 people are killed and 2 million injured in crashes. In fact, car crashes killed and injured more young Americans, ages 5-24, than any other cause.

The economic impact of crashes is multifaceted, with various factors costing citizens time and money:

Police and First Responder Time
When crashes occur, police and first responders, including firefighters and paramedics, are quick to arrive on the scene. According to NHTSA, law enforcement reported 6,296,000 crashes occurred in the U.S. in 2015, which amounts to approximately 17,249 crashes per day.

Law enforcement and first responders are stretched thin – in addition to other duties, it takes significant time to assess, treat and transport victims of crashes, or catalogue incidents in police reports and kick start the legal process if necessary. When crashes are eliminated or reduced, police and first responders across the country are freed up to focus on other high-priority incidents or tasks.

Lost Productivity Due to Traffic
Traffic congestion due to crashes has a domino effect on community productivity. Shutting down roadways due to accidents affects ease of transportation for citizens, slowing their commutes to work and costing $57.6 billion in lost productivity, according to NHTSA (2015). Extended travel time also results in excess fuel consumption and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Such closures can also impede access to local businesses, potentially reducing revenue for the hours or days that the road is closed.

Mountains of Medical Bills

In the aftermath of a crash, victims are often met with medical bills, some more extensive than others. Medical expenses for crashes totaled $23 billion in 2010, according to NHTSA.

Injuries sustained in a crash can require months or years of treatment and therapy, and victims who require treatment may need to take time off of work to heal, reducing their earning potential. Fees for emergency medical care, in both an emergency room and from first responders, accumulate quickly and can cause major financial strain.

Unexpected Car Repairs
Insurance may not fully cover the costs of vehicle repairs sustained in a crash, depending on the coverage each involved party has. In some cases, vehicle damage is so severe that the victim must purchase a new car. These unforeseen issues can increase a driver’s insurance premium in addition to costs for car repairs or new loan payments.

Drawn-out Legal Costs
If a crash warrants legal action, victims must pay substantial legal and court fees over multiple months in order to reach a settlement. The time commitment and stress caused by legal proceedings can negatively affect productivity as well.

While public safety is often a driver of community initiatives to reduce crashes, local economies see residual benefits from such programs. Learn how Redflex’s photo enforcement solutions can help reduce crashes and increase public safety on your roadways.