California’s Total Costs of Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths

When a fatal motor vehicle collision occurs, the personal and emotional costs are enormous. Losing a family member or a loved one in a car crash is unspeakably painful. But the emotional and intangible losses are not the only negative consequences of fatal traffic accidents. 

Each year in the United States, an average of 38,000 people are fatally harmed in motor vehicle traffic collisions. 

While the friends and families of those killed suffer incalculable harm, the financial toll of car crash deaths is also staggering. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nationwide car accident deaths caused $55 billion in financial losses in 2018. 

Most of these financial losses are the result of medical costs and lost work. Certain age groups and categories of road users are more likely to account for financial losses than others. 

States are encouraged to use this data to implement strategies for decreasing fatal motor vehicle collisions.

CDC Findings Regarding California Collision Deaths in 2018

More than 4,000 individuals in the state of California were fatally injured in traffic accidents in 2018. These motor vehicle collision deaths resulted in over $5.8 billion in financial losses.

Various Types and Ages of Roadway Users

Different types of roadway users accounted for various amounts of losses. For instance, fatally injured drivers and passengers in motor vehicles accounted for $3.4 billion in annual financial losses.  

Those operating motorcycles accounted for $911 million in economic damage. Pedestrians who were killed in traffic accidents accounted for 22% of the total financial loss — this amounted to $1.3 billion. 

Finally, bicyclists accounted for the smallest percentage of economic damage from fatal traffic accidents in California that year. Only 4% of the economic losses from traffic crash deaths, or $205 million, was the result of bicyclists. 

The ages of victims also correlated with certain amounts of economic loss. For instance, young adults (20–34 years of age) accounted for the largest portion of economic damage from fatal motor vehicle accidents. Roadway deaths of young adults resulted in $2.79 billion in losses in California that year. 

Deaths of adults aged 35 to 64 caused $2.19 billion in economic damage, accounting for 38% of total losses. Teens were the third leading group accounting for financial losses, at $487 million in damage.

Economic Losses Compared with Other States in the Region

The economic losses from fatal accidents in California were significantly more than those of other states in the region. For example, Arizona experienced only $1.37 billion in financial losses from fatal car crashes in the same year. 

However, this may also reflect the larger population that calls California home. While Arizona has a population of only 7.2 million people, there were nearly 40 million Californians in 2018. 

Other states in the region with smaller populations also reported fewer economic losses as the result of fatal crashes. Nevada has a population of 3 million people and reported $498 million in losses from car crash deaths in 2018.

Tools and Strategies to Reduce Car Crash Deaths in California

The CDC recommends certain laws and policies that the state of California can implement to decrease the loss of money and lives. Many of these strategies are proven to reduce the rates of fatal motor vehicle accidents. These strategies include:

  • Strategically placed sobriety checkpoints
  • Laws requiring seat belt use
  • Age-appropriate bicycle helmet requirements
  • Public education for booster and car seat use
  • Enforcement of seat belt regulations 

Another effective approach for increasing road user safety is passing child passenger laws. For instance, laws may require an appropriate car or booster seat for children nine years of age and under.  

These safety devices help prevent children from being thrown out of their seats in the event of a crash. Children involved in fatal accidents accounted for 3% of losses, according to the CDC.

Another useful safety method is the implementation of a graduated driver licensing (GDL) approach. This legislative model of driver’s licenses can include the following:

  • Required age of 16 years for a learner’s permit
  • Mandatory holding period of one year for a learner’s permit
  • Prohibitions on driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for permit holders
  • Minimum age of 18 for lifting restrictions on nighttime driving
  • Minimum age of 18 for lifting restrictions on young passengers 

These legal restrictions would decrease some of the most dangerous driving conditions and circumstances in California.  

One final driving safety policy is mandatory ignition interlock devices. These safety mechanisms require those with a history of impaired driving to take a breathalyzer test before starting their vehicle.  

Such devices help to ensure that those operating vehicles are free of drugs and alcohol. Preventing motor vehicle accidents is the surest way to prevent personal and financial losses from fatal crashes.

For more information, see the Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths: Costly But Preventable CALIFORNIA PDF from the CDC and State-Specific Costs of Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths.

Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including cartruck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!