Every year, the United States loses in the neighborhood of 30,000 people to traffic accidents. That's like the entire population of a medium-sized town being wiped out annually. The number of deaths not only wreaks havoc with families, but it puts a strain on our economy.

In recognition of the rising costs of traffic fatalities – not just in the U.S., but globally – the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011-2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The ten-year span will be marked by increased consciousness of driving habits, road conditions and vehicle safety. In honor of the event, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has put together some alarming statistics.

In 2005, traffic deaths wound up costing just over $41 billion in medical bills and work lost. Yes, that's billion with a "B." According to the CDC, 10 states stood head and shoulders above the rest in monetary losses. Those were: California, at $4.16 billion, Texas, at $3.50 billion, Florida, at 3.16 billion, Georgia, at $1.55 billion, Pennsylvania, at $1.52 billion, North Carolina, at $1.50 billion, New York, at $1.33 billion, Illinois, at $1.32 billion, Ohio, at $1.23 billion and Tennessee, at $1.15 billion.

Though these 10 states handily outranked the others, the CDC tallied up the monetary total for all of the 50 states. To see how your home state fared, check out the CDC website. If the U.S. can rack up such an alarming total by itself, we shudder to think what the global costs of car wrecks is.


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  • 20 Comments
      Jason H
      • 4 Years Ago
      Also conspicuously absent from this article...the fact that this money is not just being dumped into some hole. I can see how the death part of it (loss of a wage-earning consumer) damages the economy, but short of that, car accidents facilitate commerce. Think about it...when somebody wrecks their car, ALL SORTS of people benefit. From lawyers, body shops, and medical professionals to EMTs, tow truck drivers and car dealers.
      Nick Allain
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great. Now we can have the UN tell us how to drive in addition to how we eat. Missing from this article? How about stats year by year on cost? My guess is the reason 2005 is cited is because that's the worst year and deaths/cost have been going down since.
      icharlie
      • 4 Years Ago
      No surprise Fl is on this list. Here in Miami, there are at least 5 accidents daily on the same stretches of road to the point where it is commonplace. Interesting is that we more than doubled the numbers for NY. Isn't that where the worst drivers are?
      diffrunt
      • 4 Years Ago
      driver training! driver training! driver training!
      cadetgray
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why exactly is the Center for Disease Control studying traffic accidents? Shouldn't they be spending our tax dollars doing research that is more related to the agency's title? How about a study on Anthrax or HIV, or is that research now done by the Department of Transportation. This is why I am sick to my stomach every April 15th.
      JackS
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's the point of just listing the top 10 like that? The states have hugely different populations! New York does relatively well if you consider the population size, likely because most accidents are lower speed ones in the NYC metro area.
        Kai F. Lahmann
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JackS
        Exactly. In cities a lot of accidents happen, but very few of them kill people. In Hamburg only about 20-30 people die every year in car accidents (15-20 per million inhabitants). German average are 45 per million and some of the rather empty Eastern German states even have over 100.
      clipsinite
      • 4 Years Ago
      That data is really interesting. The variance between similarly sized states in costs is staggering. The best comparison is between North Carolina and New Jersey. In 2005, both were about in equal population, 8.7 million vs 8.6 million, but traffic accidents cost North Carolina OVER TWICE as much as New Jersey. You can also compare New York vs. Florida and Texas.
      Dafish
      • 4 Years Ago
      I see a trend in looking at the different cost per state. example is, the state I grew up in Kansas was less then 1/3 of other states I have lived in, Missouri and North Carolina, why? Cause in Kansas they enforce the laws, no rolling stop signs or roll thru right turns on red. Speeding anything over 4mph, nailed. No turn signal use, nailed. In NC, even the cops did not use turn signals and everybody drove like Kurt Busch, in Nascar, out of my way I am coming thru. Here in Missouri it is a free for all on the streets and highways, I never see a cop or highway patrol on the highways.
      Jbosch
      • 4 Years Ago
      At the bottom of your article you say you shudder to think of the global world cost. United Sates has 1.9 million traffic accidents in a year (non-fatal and fatal). World wide there are 7.9 million traffic accidents a year. So just below 1/4 of the worlds traffic accidents happen in a country that makes up less than 5% of the worlds population. Now it could be argued that US has more cars than other countries per person, etc etc. And that is definitely true. But lets look at Canada. 17.8 million cars on the road. US 135.9 million cars on the road. Canada has 151300 accidents per year, US has 1.9 million. Based on Accidents per car or accidents per person, US still almost doubles Canada. So does the US have poorly trained drivers? insufficient laws? Or improper infrastructure to facilitate safe driving? Or is this simply a difference in culture based on reporting accidents? What do you guys think?
        JackS
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jbosch
        Probably a combination of things. DRLs are required in Canada on all cars and that alone reduces accidents quite a bit since drivers are more likely to see and avoid other cars. Cars are also rather more expensive in general somaybe there's less kids joyriding cars. Probably a very complex answer.
        photofill
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jbosch
        my vote: improper infrastructure to facilitate safe driving When a unsafe stop sign is purely replaced by a stop light, without solving the real issue (not able to see oncoming traffic because of a narrow bridge), I don't think we really care about safety. If we cared, we would have repaired the bridge, in my example, and add more turn lanes and other means to aid accident prone areas. Or maybe we just don't have enough $ to care?
        Just Stuff
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jbosch
        Very poorly Trained Drivers, Improper Infrastructure as well as current laws not enforced. In the DC Metro area turn signals are on option that they didn't come with the car (this includes the cops), Yield is for the other guy, and you only have to stop if someone is looking.
        nardvark
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jbosch
        population density
          Jbosch
          • 4 Years Ago
          @nardvark
          Population density may have something to do with it for sure. However 60% of Canada lives in approximately 5% of the land. Draw a line from Windsor ON, follow the 401 (major Canadian hwy) all the way to Ottawa and through Montreal. That accounts for the majority of Canada. The population is quite dense in that area. In fact Toronto was only recently demoted from the most congested city in the world. It is now London. Look at China as well. they only have 118 million vehicles for 1.6 billion people. As compared to US's 135.9 million for 309 million. However I'm not sure however how this compares in terms of distributed population density. ie. amount of cars in Hong Kong compared to rural China. Not arguing. I just find it interesting.
      LazyLemming
      • 4 Years Ago
      They list type of deaths by "Type of road user" And it's Motor vehicle, Motorcycle, Bicycle, Pedestrian and "Other" Other takes up 66% of the cost in Arizona. WTF is other? Rollerbladers and Skateboarders? I really can't think of a traffic related death that wouldn't fit into one of the 4 other categories...
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