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Front Page » February 27, 2003 » Opinion » Safety belt usage saves money, lives
Published 4,263 days ago

Safety belt usage saves money, lives


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By LOU R. DECAROLIS
U.S. Department of Transportation

With most states facing drastic budget deficits, governments are examining expenditures and looking for efficient ways to save money.

One of the greatest cost savings to the states is getting people to buckle safety belts on each and every ride.

The simple, habitual action of buckling up can not only save lives, it can save significant amounts of money each year.

According to The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000, the cost of traffic accidents that occurred in 2000 totaled $230.6 billion. The total is equal to approximately $820 for each person living in the United States and translates to increased taxes, health care and insurance costs borne by society rather than by crash victims.

On average, inpatient hospital care costs for unbuckled motor vehicle accident victims are 50 percent higher than for those who are belted - and society bears 85 percent of those costs, not the individuals involved.

Private insurers pay half of all motor vehicle crash costs, individual crash victims pay approximately 26 percent and third parties like uninvolved motorists delayed in traffic, charities, and health care providers pay about 14 percent.

Overall, the people not directly involved in accidents pay for nearly three-quarters of all crashes, primarily through insurance premiums, taxes and travel delay.

During the last 26 years, safety belts have prevented 135,000 fatalities and 3.8 million injuries. This saved society $585 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury related economic costs.

During the same period, nearly 315,000 additional fatalities and 5.2 million serious injuries could have been prevented by safety belts if all occupants had used them. This represents an economic loss of $913 billion in unnecessary expenses and lost productivity.

Buckling up is still the most effective and immediate way to save lives, reduce injuries, and reduce economic costs from crashes on America's roadways.

Because we are all personally and financially affected when even one person does not buckle up, we all must be a part of the solution. It's simple - make sure every passenger is buckled up on every ride.�


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February 27, 2003
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