In Maryland, as in every state, the human toll involved in car accidents and other motor vehicle crashes each year is enormous. When considered across the United States as a whole, the loss of human life is simply alarming.
"Every 10 seconds," says Dr. Grant Baldwin of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), "someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, and nearly 40,000 people die from these injuries each year."
Dr. Grant is director of the CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, and his department has also studied the magnitude of crashes from a financial standpoint. He says that "the numbers are staggering."
This figure is perhaps the most riveting: The annual cost associated with injuries and lost productivity resulting from accidents involving cars, motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians is close to $100 billion. When extrapolated across the total number of drivers in the U.S., that equates to approximately $500 per driver.
Here are some additionally relevant numbers: The costs related to traffic deaths approached $60 billion, and emergency room visits cost $14 billion, with hospitalization outlays being roughly double that.
Unsurprisingly, serious vehicle accidents featured most prominently among teenagers and young adults; even though that age group constitutes only about 14 percent of the population, its drivers are involved in 28 percent of accidents in which injuries and deaths occur. Also noteworthy are the inordinately high costs associated with motorcycle accidents, given bikers' comparative lack of protection: Although only about six percent of all injuries and deaths involve motorcyclists, the costs associated with those accidents are about 12 percent.
The CDC stresses a positive in all this, namely, that the numbers can come way down. The organization endorses graduated driver licensing programs aimed at teenagers, better enforcement of safety laws, and programs that target drunk drivers, such as sobriety checkpoints.