Drivers in the U.S. logged 3.2 trillion miles last year – a record that rounds out the fifth straight year in mileage increases nationally. That’s according to the Federal Highway Administration, which underscored the demands facing America’s roads and bridges, reaffirming the need for updates and investment in infrastructure.
This coincides with rising car accident rates across the country. Early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on 2015 total crashes reveal 6.3 million police-reported accidents that year, resulting in 35,100 deaths and 2.45 million injuries. That is one fatality every 15 minutes, or a total of 96 daily. While the highest-severity crashes declined about 17 percent from 2006 to 2015, there was a seven percent hike in the number of fatal crashes from 2014 to 2015. There was also a four percent uptick in the number of non-fatal injury crashes and a 3.7 percent increase in the number of property damage-only crashes that same year. The overall number of police-reported crashes climbed by nearly four percent. The federal agency notes this is a statistically significant increase.
The estimated economic cost (including lost productivity, medical costs, emergency services, insurance administration costs, congestion costs, legal expenses, and societal harm) of car accidents as of 2010 was $836 billion. This is astronomical. Individuals and families directly affected by these losses absorb the brunt of this burden.