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What are the real costs of car accidents?

Anyone in West Virginia who drives a car, SUV or other vehicle knows they have some risk of getting into an accident. Of course, people can reduce those risks by always putting safety first and adhering to all traffic laws. On the other hand, even the safest of drivers may still end up in an accident caused by a negligent driver.

Car accidents often come with significant expenses. Not only can the property damage to the vehicles involved add up fast, but the costs of medical expenses and lost wages resulting from accident injuries are also a significant consideration. So just how expensive are car accidents?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study recently which showed auto accidents cost Americans a whopping $871 billion in 2010. That huge sum includes almost $280 billion in economic losses, including lost wages. The remaining $594 billion stems from deaths, as well as pain and suffering combined with decreased quality of life due to injuries.

Some of the main causes of car accidents are drunk driving and speeding. When lost quality of life is included in the totals, drunk driving crashes represented about $199 billion in losses, while accidents caused by speeding contributed roughly $210 billion in losses. Distracted driving, which includes texting, talking to others in the car or eating while driving, accounted for about $129 billion in costs including lost quality of life.

All told, the cost of auto accidents comes out to a staggering $900 per year for every person in the country. This is a tremendous waste for the country as a whole. But the people involved in a car accident suffer the brunt of the losses in the form of serious injury and economic damages.

Every driver has a responsibility to drive safely and to operate their vehicle in a way that does not endanger other people on the roadways. Anyone who doesn't take that obligation seriously could find themselves facing civil liability for an accident.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "New NHTSA Study Shows Motor Vehicle Crashes Have $871 Billion Economic and Societal Impact on U.S. Citizens," Accessed on Oct. 2, 2014

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