Traffic crashes come with hefty price tag

New report examines societal costs of crashes, crime

The price tag for traffic crashes and index crimes in Michigan in 2009 exceeded $6.7 billion in monetary costs according to a new report released by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

The study, funded by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), used 2009 traffic crash and index crime data to estimate dollar losses from traffic crashes and index crimes to the state and for each county. Index crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

According to the report, index crimes in Michigan resulted in $1.9 billion in monetary costs, while traffic crashes resulted in $4.8 billion in monetary costs. When further expanded to include monetary and non-monetary quality-of-life costs, index crime costs totaled $4.7 billion in 2009, while traffic crashes resulted in $9.1 billion in total costs, according to the report.

The five counties with the highest crash and crime costs are Wayne, St. Clair, Oakland, Macomb and Kent. Ogemaw County has the lowest.

The good news is that despite the high costs of both crime and crashes, there was a 19 percent decrease in monetary costs and a 27 percent decrease in comprehensive costs related to crashes between 2004 and 2009. Traffic fatalities fell 25 percent in that same time period, while injuries decreased by 29 percent.

''This is an important report because it underlines the vital role of traffic safety efforts in our state,'' said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. ''Traffic crashes come with a tremen dous personal toll and an enormous price tag. Using federal funds for seat belt and drunk driving patrols throughout the year helps save both the lives and the money of our state's citizens.''

The report states: Both traffic crashes and crime impose significant economic and social burdens on individuals and society through injury and loss of life, as well as property damage and loss. Efforts to reduce crashes and crime often result in competing demands for scarce public resources. Comparable and up-to-date cost data on crashes and crime contribute to informed decision making about allocation of these resources in important ways.

Monetary costs include medical care, future earnings, public services and property damage and loss. Non-monetary quality-of-life costs include costs associated with pain, suffering and fear. For crime, these values come from jury awards for pain, suffering and lost quality of life due to physical injuries or fear.

The first crime/crash report was generated in 1988. At that time, Michigan traffic crashes resulted in $2.3 billion in monetary costs and $7.1 billion in total costs. Similar studies were conducted in 1994, 1999 and 2004.

The latest report includes several specialized cost analyses, including teen-driver involved and motorcycle-involved crashes and the costs associated with involved unrestrained occupants.

The report, which includes county-by-county information, is available at www.michigan. gov/ohsp.

Copyright © 2011 State of Michigan

Published: Mon, Aug 29, 2011


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