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Calculating the costs of fatal motor vehicle accidents: Part I

A growing trend in America is to live a quantified life. Increasingly sophisticated technology is allowing many of us to measure the minutia of our daily lives in order to extrapolate larger patterns. It is now easier than ever before to track your daily steps, your caloric intake, your sleep and even how much time you spend on social media sites at work when you should be doing more productive things (according to your boss).

Just as we can quantify life on a micro scale, it is also becoming easier to track trends at the macro level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for instance, collect and analyze data in an attempt to track the financial costs associated with fatal car accidents. While the most recent data can sometimes be up to a decade old, it nonetheless reveals that automobile accidents have financial ramifications that are far higher than most people realize.

On average, more than 30,000 people are killed in U.S. automobile accidents each year. According to CDC data, car accidents on U.S. roads in 2005 were associated with $41 billion in costs related to work loss and medical bills.

More detailed analysis of CDC data shows that half of the total costs of U.S. car accidents were generated in just 10 states, including New York. In fact, New York was ranked 7th on the list of highest incurred costs, with $1.33 billion associated with car accidents.

According to the CDC, only $18 million of New York’s total $1.33 billion went to medical costs. The rest was costs associated with work loss, including loss of lifetime earnings for those who were killed in car accidents.

Please check back as we continue this discussion in our next post.

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