Car accidents seem to continuously be on the rise with 40,000 deaths and over two million injuries in the U.S. in 2016. But what do these numbers mean from an economic standpoint? and with driverless cars what would it look like with zero car accidents in the future.
Law firm Cooney and Conway broke down the numbers to see how these accidents can affect people on an individual level and how they can be prevented. By looking at how much vehicle accidents cost the nation as a whole, and each individual, l the numbers are staggering.
The most recent data from the NHTSA found that vehicle crashes result in over $870 billion on economic and social impacts on U.S. citizens. There are numerous factors that contribute to this astronomical number. $76 billion of it is from property damage alone. Traffic congestion is another big reason, with it resulting in $28 billion in losses.
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But there’s something to be said for how much these car accidents cost people on an individual level. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2015, over 10,000 people died from alcohol-impaired driving crashes. These accidents resulted in $49 billion that cost the nation, but individually it cost every person in the U.S. $158.
Crashes resulting from speeding cost the U.S. the most. Taking a $59 billion hit on the nation, it also costs each individual $191.
Distracted driving, resulting from using a phone, eating, or anything else distracting your attention from the road, is on the rise across the nation. In 2015 there were nearly 3,500 deaths resulting from distracted driving according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is estimated that nearly 700,000 drivers are using an electronic devise while on the road, only allowing this number to grow.
What can be done to minimize the number of accidents and possibly get to zero car accidents? Self-driving cars might be the answer. The Wall Street Journal suggests that self-driving cars could eliminate 90 percent of all auto accidents in the country and save up to 300,000 lives per decade. Autonomous vehicles will also enable insurance premiums to drop by 40 percent and have medical costs fall.
While there isn’t a definite timeline of when self-driving cars will take over the road, it is highly speculated that they will allow for safer driving conditions for everyone.
Ultimately, the roads as we know them aren’t getting any safer. With distracted driving only growing and death and injury tolls only continue to climb as a result of it. The deaths and health problems from these staggering numbers is appalling enough, but to look at it from an economic perspective zero car accidents shows a whole new problem as well. See the infographic below.