$34 Billion Annual Cost Laid to Crashes Involving Drivers 15-17

AAA announced last week that its first-ever analysis of crashes involving teen drivers showed they cost more than $34 billion in medical expenses, lost work, property damage, quality of life loss, and other related costs in 2006. The analysis examined accidents involving drivers ages 15 to 17.

"The impact of a teen crash extends beyond the emotional tragedies and physical injury at the crash scene, with costs that can extend to employers, families, the government, and society overall," said AAA President/CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. "These economic figures provide one more reason for legislators to improve graduated driver licensing in their states -- a proven measure governments can take to reduce the deadly toll of teen driver crashes."

Comprehensive graduated licensing systems reduce fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers by an average of 38 percent, according to a 2007 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Johns Hopkins University. The new analysis, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation for AAA, showed drivers ages 15-17 in 2006 were involved in about 974,000 crashes that injured 406,427 people and killed 2,541. The $34.4 billion cost included $9.8 billion in cost from fatal crashes, with an average cost of $3.841 million per fatality, while injury crashes averaged $50,512 and represented an overall total cost of $20.5 billion. Property-damage crashes accounted for the remaining $4.1 billion in cost.

"Some of these costs are paid directly by government through Medicaid, police, paramedics, and courts. Many other costs -- like lost wages, traffic delay, and reduced quality of life -- don't show up directly but also reflect the very large, very real cost of crashes involving teen drivers," said Darbelnet. "States that improve their graduated driver licensing programs will reduce crashes, injuries, and deaths for road users of all ages and reduce crash-related costs that are paid by the state, too."

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