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30MOVE | Fall 2008

the BaCkgRound

Most of America is tuned-in to the financial impact of highway travel—citizens get a small, or big, glimpse each time they fill their gas tanks. And if the cost of fuel itself isn’t bad enough, in 2007 the Texas Transporta- tion Institute (TTI) released the Urban Mobility Report, showing traffic congestion wastes huge amounts of that very pricey gas…not to mention a lot of time that could be more productively spent at work (versus sitting in rush hour traffic) or on a vacation (versus stuck riding bumper-to-bumper on the way to the beach).

Overall TTI’s report discovered congestion on the na- tion’s roadways causes a $78 billion drain on the econo- my over the course of one year. Now, if you think that’s a large chunk of change, imagine the numbers a car crash adds to that cost.

the RePoRt

In March 2008, the American Automobile Association (AAA) released the report, “Crashes vs. Congestion- What’s the Cost to Society?” And the resulting answer was…a lot. According to the report—which took into account the safety costs of medical, emergency and police services, property damage, lost productivity (similar to the TTI report), lost quality of life, and other typically overlooked charges—164.2 billion American dollars are lost to traffic crashes each year in the urban areas studied. That’s over $1,000 out of each individual motorist’s pocket over a twelve month period.

AAA, in collaboration with Cambridge Systematics, Inc., modeled their methodology off the TTI study, us- ing the same major cities and roadways to calculate the cost of traffic crashes as TTI did congestion. Eighty-five metropolitan areas were analyzed in the study—from

“Not only do you have the car, use of police cars, fire down the highwa , etc.,”

Akron, Ohio to Richmond, Va. to San Antonio, Texas. The results showed that larger areas lose more money to both congestion and crashes, but smaller cities incur a greater per person cost when it comes to traffic crash- es. Why? Because smaller cities have smaller popula- tions, and therefore have less people to take the brunt of the financial impact of a crash in their town.

the Results

The financial impact was determined based on the Fed- eral Highway Administration’s (FHWA) comprehensive costs for traffic fatalities and injuries, which place a dol- lar value on the following eleven components: k Property damage k Lost earnings k Lost household production (non-market activities

occurring in the home) k Medical costs k Emergency services k Travel delay k Vocational rehabilitation k Workplace costs k Administrative k Legal k Pain and lost quality of life

the dRiVeRs and RideRs

Each of these costs obviously affect those involved in a traffic crash immediately, but can also have long term affects. Take for example, the medical costs. Someone involved in a serious car crash will, as is expected, have a mountain of medical bills and insurance papers to work through—from the second the collision occurs, to as far down the line as the rest of their life.

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