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CDC: Car Crash Victims Cost $17 Billion in 2005

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 26, 2010

The cost of medical care to treat people injured by motor vehicle crashes amounted to $17 billion in 2005, according to a study released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Adding in loss of productivity, the bill exceeded $99 billion.

Broken down by type of vehicle, the cost was highest for motor vehicles such as cars and light trucks, $70 billion; followed by $12 billion for motorcycles; $10 billion for pedestrians and $5 billion for bicycles.

"Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries and nearly 40,000 people die from these injuries each year," said Grant Baldwin, MD, director of the CDC's Division of Injury Prevention. "This study highlights the magnitude of the problem of crash-related injuries from a cost perspective, and the numbers are staggering."

The CDC numbers are published in an article in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention. The 2005 data was used because the CDC said it is the most recent.

Other facts of interest to providers from this report include:

  • The cost of non-fatal injuries from motor vehicle related collisions resulting in hospitalization amounted to $28 billion and the cost of injuries for patients treated for these injuries in emergency departments and released was $14 billion.
    70% of those who died and 52% of those injured in motor vehicle crashes were men.
  • Teens and young adults made up 28% of all fatal and nonfatal motor vehicle injuries and 31% of the costs, but people in their age groups represented only 14% of the population.
  • Motorcyclists made up 6% of all fatalities and injuries, but 12% of the costs, likely due to their injury severity.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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