The National Safety Council makes
estimates of the average costs of fatal and nonfatal unintentional
injuries to illustrate their impact on the nation's economy. The costs
are a measure of the dollars spent and income not received due to
accidents, injuries, and fatalities. It is another way to measure the
importance of prevention work.
This bulletin illustrates how costs
can be estimated for a community or state. The figures should be used
to estimate the actual costs to society of deaths and injuries. The
comprehensive cost figures (discussed below) should be used for cost
Cost estimation is not exact -- it
can only be approximated. The estimates depend on many factors. Any cost
estimates derived from information provided herein should be rounded to
indicate that they are only approximations, not exact figures. The
recommended rule is: for estimates less than $3,000,000, round to the
nearest $100,000; for estimates between $3,000,000 and $10,000,000,
round to the nearest $500,000; for estimates between $10,000,000 and
$30,000,000, round to the nearest $1,000,000; and for estimates greater
than $30,000,000, round to the nearest $5,000,000.
The calculable costs of
motor-vehicle crashes are wage and productivity losses, medical
expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage, and employers’
uninsured costs. (See the definitions on the reverse for a description
of what is included in each component.) The costs of all these items for
each death (not each fatal crash), injury (not each injury crash), and
property damage crash were:
- Death $1,410,000
- Nonfatal Disabling Injury $70,200
- Property Damage Crash (including nondisabling injuries) $8,900
To estimate the costs of motor-vehicle crashes that occur while on the job, see “Costs of Other Injuries” below.
Expressed on a per death basis, the
cost of all motor vehicle crashes i.e. fatal, nonfatal injury, and
property damage was $7,280,000. This includes the cost of one death, 54
nonfatal disabling injuries, and 234 property damage crashes (including
minor injuries). This average may be used to estimate the motor vehicle
crash costs for a state provided that there are at least 10 deaths and
only one or two occurred in each fatal crash. If fewer than 10 deaths,
estimate the costs of deaths, nonfatal disabling injuries, and property
damage crashes separately.
Motor vehicle injuries by severity.
Estimates are given here of the costs by severity of injuries, as
defined in sections 2.3.4 through 2.3.6 of the Manual on Classification
of Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents (7th Edition) ANSI Standard
D16.1-2007. These injury severity designations are sometimes referred to
as class "A," "B," and "C."
- Incapacitating injury (A) $69,200
- Nonincapacitating evident injury (B) $22,300
- Possible injury (C) $12,600
These estimates may be helpful for
cities and states that do not use the concept of “disabling injury” (see
definitions). Estimates used for deaths or property damage crashes are
not changed by using these estimates.
Cost-benefit analysis. The figures
above are appropriate for measuring the economic loss to a community
resulting from past motor-vehicle crashes. They should not be used,
however, in computing the dollar value of future benefits due to traffic
safety measures because they do not include the value of a person's
natural desire to live longer or to protect the quality of one's life.
That is, the economic loss estimates do not include what people are
willing to pay for improved safety. Work has been done to create the
necessary theoretical groundwork and empirical valuation of injury costs
under the “willingness to pay” or comprehensive cost concept. Estimates
in the following section are based on the comprehensive cost concept
and should be used for cost-benefit analyses wherever feasible.
Comprehensive costs of
motor-vehicle crashes. In addition to the economic cost components
listed above, the following comprehensive costs also include a measure
of the value of lost quality of life which was obtained through
empirical studies of what people actually pay to reduce their safety and
health risks. The average comprehensive costs on a per injured person
- Death $4,360,000
- Incapacitating injury $220,300
- Nonincapacitating evident injury $56,200
- Possible injury $26,700
- No injury $2,400
Since the lost quality of life
figures, which are included in the above comprehensive costs
calculations, do not represent real income not received nor expenses
incurred, they should not be used to determine the pure economic impact
of past crashes.
Because obtaining information on
the number and severity of nonfatal injuries for home, public
nonmotor-vehicle, and work is difficult, the best approach is to
estimate total costs on the “per death” basis using the following
averages. These averages are based on their respective injury/death
- Home injuries (fatal and nonfatal) per death $3,300,000
- Public nonmotor-vehicle injuries (fatal and nonfatal) per death $4,400,000
- Work injuries (fatal and nonfatal) per death:
- without employers’ uninsured costs $44,100,000 with employers’ uninsured costs $46,800,000
Multiplying the number of deaths by
these average costs provides an estimate of the economic loss due to
both deaths and injuries in these categories.
The work injury figure with
employers’ uninsured costs includes the monetary value of time lost by
uninjured workers who were directly or indirectly involved in injuries.
Losses due to fire are the only property damage costs included in the
work, home and public figures. No satisfactory estimates of other
property damage costs are available.
While multiple-fatality incidents,
such as those discussed for motor-vehicle crashes, are not common, one
fire, explosion, or other disaster may account for most of a small
community's annual unintentional fatality total. When this occurs,
estimate the costs by: (1) counting only one death for the disaster
using the cost from the above figures; and (2) adding to this figure the
cost for other disaster deaths using the economic cost per death from
the motor vehicle section.
Even though a community generally
will not be able to estimate the number of disabling injuries that occur
in work, home, and public nonmotor-vehicle injuries, it may be useful
to know the approxim-ate economic loss per death and per disabling
injury in these three classes of accidents. The table below shows the
per case average cost of wage and productivity losses, medical expenses,
and administrative expenses.
|without employer costs
|with employer costs
These figures do not include any
estimate of property damage or nondisabling injury costs and should not
be used to estimate the total economic loss to a community from these
kinds of injuries.
To estimate the cost of a
work-related, motor-vehicle crash (motor-vehicle crash while on the
job), use work injury costs, including uninsured employer costs, if
there is reason to believe that uninsured costs resulted from the
injury. If no uninsured costs occurred, use figures for either
motor-vehicle crashes or work injuries excluding employer costs.
NOTE: A description of the National
Safety Council's current cost estimating procedures may be found in the
Technical Appendix of Injury Facts®. Effective with the 1993 bulletin,
the Council extensively revised its cost estimating procedures. New
components were added, new benchmarks and inflation factors adopted, and
a new discount rate of 4% was assumed. Some further revisions were made
for the 2004 bulletin. For this reason, the cost estimates shown here
are not comparable to those published in earlier bulletins.
Wage and productivity losses
include the total of wages and fringe benefits together with an estimate
of the replacement-cost value of household services. Also includes
travel delay for motor-vehicle crashes.
Medical expenses include doctor
fees, hospital charges, the cost of medicines, future medical costs, and
ambulance, helicopter, and other emergency medical services.
Administrative expenses include the
administrative cost of public and private insurance, and police and
legal costs. Private insurance administrative costs are the difference
between premiums paid to insurance companies and claims paid out by
them. It is their cost of doing business and is part of the cost total.
Claims paid out by insurance companies are not identified separately, as
every claim is compensation for losses such as wages, medical expenses,
property damage, etc.
Motor-vehicle damage includes the
value of property damage to vehicles from motor-vehicle crashes. The
cost of normal wear and tear to vehicles is not included.
Employers’ uninsured costs are an
estimate of the uninsured costs incurred by employers and represents the
money value of time lost by uninjured workers. It includes time spent
investigating and reporting injuries, giving first aid, production
slowdowns, training of replacement workers, and extra cost of overtime
for uninjured workers.
Disabling injury is one which
results in death, some degree of permanent impairment, or renders the
injured person unable to effectively perform his or her regular duties
for a full day beyond the day of injury.
Source: Statistics Department,
National Safety Council, and Children’s Safety Network, Economics and
Insurance Resource Center, Pacific Institute for Research and