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$871 billion is the cost of US highway accidents in 2010

A new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that the financial cost of all the car accidents on U.S. highways in a given year is amazingly high -- and that distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding have major roles to play in this cost.

The study found that highway accidents in this country in 2010 cost $871 billion, and only about one third of that is in actual economic costs which were measured at $277 billion. Far more of the cost of these accidents comes from "societal harm," which was measured at $594 billion. Societal harm was defined as pain, decreased quality of life and loss of life associated with these accidents.

One other interesting aspect to come out of this study: 56 percent of the economic costs and 62 percent of the societal harm associated with these wrecks involved drunk driving, distracted driving or speeding. When you consider that there were nearly 33,000 traffic fatalities in 2010 and that 3.9 million people suffered injuries, it is a crime (in some cases literally) that these driving behaviors were the main cause.

There is one crucial thing we all need to take away from this story, and that is that reckless or negligent driving behaviors are simply ridiculous. No one should drink and then drive, or text while driving, or choose to go way too fast given the speed limit. It's silly, dangerous and it can make you liable for the injuries, damage and other harm caused to innocent people if you crash.

Source: USA Today, "Staggering toll: Car crashes cost $871 billion a year," Larry Copeland, May 29, 2014

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