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Vehicle Accident Deaths Cost States Billions

CDC Says Costs for Medical Care and Work Loss Were Highest in California, Texas, and Florida

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

May 11, 2011 -- Deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes cost an estimated $41 billion in the U.S. in medical and work-loss expenses in the CDC's most recent annual estimate.

The estimates are from 2005, the most recent year for which cost and crash data are available.

The analysis shows that just 10 of the states account for almost half the total, or $20.4 billion.

The states with the highest medical and work loss costs for the year 2005 were:

  1. California $4.16 billion
  2. Texas $3.5 billion
  3. Florida $3.16 billion
  4. Georgia $1.55 billion
  5. Pennsylvania $1.52 billion
  6. North Carolina $1.50 billion
  7. New York $1.33 billion
  8. Illinois $1.32 billion
  9. Ohio $1.23 billion
  10. Tennessee $1.15 billion

The CDC says the analysis was not designed to explain the variation in state costs.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says in a news release that deaths from motor vehicle crashes are often preventable. He says the use of seat belts, graduated driver's license programs, child safety seats, and motorcycle helmets could save lives and reduce health care costs.

The CDC released fact sheets for each state to coincide with the launch of a program called Decade of Action for Road Safety. The period 2011-2020 has been designated by the United Nations as the Decade of Road Safety, calling for an emphasis on protecting lives on roads around the world.

"It's tragic to hear that anyone dies on our nation's roads," says the CDC's Linda Degutis, DrPH, MSN. Degutis is director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Child passenger safety laws and comprehensive graduated driver licensing laws are proven to protect young lives."

Degutis says states should be encouraged to "strengthen and enforce these laws to help keep more of our young people safe."

Safety Recommendations for States

The CDC offers the following recommendations for states to consider as strategies:

  • Enact seat belt laws that allow motorists to be stopped and cited for not wearing seat belts. Seat belts reduce the risk of death to those riding in the front seat by about half.
  • Enact strong child passenger safety policies that require children to be placed in age- and size-appropriate safety and booster seats while riding in vehicles.
  • Establish comprehensive graduated driver license systems that are proven to reduce teen crashes. Such requirements help new drivers gain experience under lower-risk conditions by granting driving privileges in stages. The most comprehensive graduated driver licensing systems have been associated with up to 40% decreases in crashes among 16-year-old drivers.
  • Universal motorcycle helmet laws, which require all riders to wear helmets. Helmet use can reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by more than one-third and reduce the risk of brain injury by 69%.

"These preventable costs are a reflection of the terrible suffering of American families whose loved ones are killed or injured on the roads," Norman Mineta, chairman of Make Roads Safe North America, says in the news release.

Mineta, a former secretary of transportation, says the worldwide driver-safety effort demonstrates that "it is time for all of us to take action to save lives at home and around the globe."

The CDC says nine of the 10 states with the highest costs are the most populous in the nation, with 53% of the population. Tennessee is the only sate with the top 10 highest costs that doesn't have one of the largest populations.

State-by-State Costs

Here is a list of the states and their total costs for crash deaths:

  • Alabama $1.07 billion
  • Alaska $74 million
  • Arizona $1.1 billion
  • Arkansas $618 million
  • California $4.16 billion
  • Colorado $623 million
  • Connecticut $263 million
  • Delaware $107 million
  • Florida $3.16 billion
  • Georgia $1.55 billion
  • Hawaii $124 million
  • Idaho $253 million
  • Illinois $1.32 billion
  • Indiana $883 million
  • Iowa $388 million
  • Kansas $433 million
  • Kentucky $871 million
  • Louisiana $969 million
  • Maine $159 million
  • Maryland $576 million
  • Massachusetts $394 million
  • Michigan $1.04 billion
  • Minnesota $527 million
  • Mississippi $881 million
  • Missouri $1.07 billion
  • Montana $205 million
  • Nebraska $245 million
  • Nevada $387 million
  • New Hampshire $143 million
  • New Jersey $651 million
  • New Mexico $435 million
  • New York $1.33 billion
  • North Carolina $1.5 billion
  • North Dakota $111 million
  • Ohio $1.23 billion
  • Oklahoma $700 million
  • Oregon $422 million
  • Pennsylvania $1.52 billion
  • Rhode Island $79 million
  • South Carolina $1.01 billion
  • South Dakota $156 million
  • Tennessee $1.15 billion
  • Texas $3.5 billion
  • Utah $281 million
  • Vermont $73 million
  • Virginia $863 million
  • Washington $665 million
  • West Virginia $342 million
  • Wisconsin $751 million
  • Wyoming $137 million

State List of Motor Vehicle Deaths

Here is a list of the states and their motor vehicle deaths for 2005:

  • Alabama 1,186
  • Alaska 79
  • Arizona 1,194
  • Arkansas 689
  • California 4,478
  • Colorado 659
  • Connecticut 295
  • Delaware 122
  • Florida 3,551
  • Georgia 1,694
  • Hawaii 139
  • Idaho 271
  • Illinois 1,475
  • Indiana 976
  • Iowa 457
  • Kansas 479
  • Kentucky 969
  • Louisiana 1,021
  • Maine 185
  • Maryland 635
  • Massachusetts 465
  • Michigan 1,213
  • Minnesota 601
  • Mississippi 945
  • Missouri 1,186
  • Montana 233
  • Nebraska 281
  • Nevada 450
  • New Hampshire 158
  • New Jersey 785
  • New Mexico 464
  • New York 1,576
  • North Carolina 1,658
  • North Dakota 127
  • Ohio 1,394
  • Oklahoma 816
  • Oregon 512
  • Pennsylvania 1,760
  • Rhode Island 88
  • South Carolina 1,070
  • South Dakota 171
  • Tennessee 1,289
  • Texas 3,740
  • Utah 313
  • Vermont 76
  • Virginia 968
  • Washington 760
  • West Virginia 383
  • Wisconsin 830
  • Wyoming 147

These are the 10 states with the highest motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people in 2005:

  1. Mississippi 32.58
  2. Wyoming 29.04
  3. Alabama 26.09
  4. South Carolina 25.14
  5. Montana 24.93
  6. Arkansas 24.82
  7. New Mexico 24.21
  8. Kentucky 23.17
  9. Oklahoma 23.10
  10. Louisiana 22.7

SOURCE: News release, CDC. ©2011 WebMD, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





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