Each year in the United States, the economic impacts of motor vehicle (MV) crashes total billions of dollars. More than property damage, these costs include medical and other related costs, lost productivity in the workplace, legal costs, and more.
Statistics reveal that in the state of Pennsylvania alone, the economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes was $14,121,634,477. That year, there were 127,127 traffic crashes reported that resulted in the loss of 1,200 lives, and 80,004 more being injured.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 2015), alcohol involved crashes account for nearly a quarter of all crash costs in the U.S. In Pennsylvania, Alcohol involved crashes accounted for approximately 8% of all crashes. These crashes were 4.5 times more likely to result in a fatality than those not involving alcohol. In all, 29% of those killed in crashes were a result of alcohol involvement.
Injury severity also increases with alcohol involvement. Drinkers not only experience distorted perception and judgment; slower reaction times also result. This is especially of concern, as drinking drivers tend to speed, and neglect other safety considerations, including seat belt and helmet use.
A study by Zhao, Zhang, and Rong (2014) found that drinking drivers were affected in these ways and others, including attitude, vigilance, and reaction to the environment. Additionally, speed was significantly higher in drinking drivers group as they were more impulsive and sensation seeking.
Prevention Reduces the Cost of Car Crashes
The best way to reduce the cost of MV crashes in the state is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Additionally, lessening the likelihood of severe injury or death if and when a crash does happen is also important. For example, consistently using safety belts and car seats is one way of doing this (CDC, 2013).
Strategies for preventing crashes include:
- Graduated driver licensing
- Ignition interlocks for those convicted of driving while intoxicated
- Sobriety checkpoints