WASHINGTON — The economic and societal harm from motor vehicle crashes amounted to a whopping $871 billion in a single year, according to a study released Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The study examined the economic toll of car and truck crashes in 2010, when 32,999 people were killed, 3.9 million injured, and 24 million vehicles damaged. Those deaths and injuries were similar to other recent years.

Of the total price tag, $277 billion was tied to economic costs — nearly $900 for every person living in the United States that year. Harm from loss of life, pain, and decreased quality of life due to injuries was pegged at $594 billion.


NHTSA produces such calculations about once a decade.

The economic cost was the equivalent of nearly 2 percent of the US gross domestic product in 2010. Factors contributing to the toll include productivity losses, property damage, and cost of medical and rehabilitation treatment, congestion, legal and court fees, emergency services and insurance administration, and costs to employers. Overall, nearly three-quarters of these costs are paid through taxes, insurance, and congestion-related costs such as travel delay, fuel consumption, and increased environmental impacts.

Associated Press