Thursday, March 6, 2008

Your Costs for Other People's Bad Driving? $1218 Per Year, Says the Dispatch

The second article today that might be of interest to bike commuters is the article on the per-person cost of traffic accidents. Based on an article on the Dispatch that uses statistics from AAA, it's costing people in the Columbus area $1218 per year for "such things as medical costs, emergency and police services, property damage and lost productivity. "

That's whether you drive a car or not!

There are several things you can take away from this:
  • Better traffic enforcement and traffic calming measures would help to slow things down and create fewer problems. As AAA themselves (admittedly an enemy of cycling infrastructure based on their lobbying for more and faster freeways instead of more safe and sustainable "complete streets") says, "The AAA recommends that lawmakers focus on traffic safety, such as tougher drunken-driving laws and passage of a "primary enforcement" seat-belt law, meaning an officer could stop and cite a driver for not wearing a seat belt."

  • The next time someone tells you that cyclists should be licensed or taxed more because they put no money into traffic infrastructure via licenses, etc., tell them that you're paying for other people's car accidents even though you don't drive a car, and cite this report.

  • Someone is finally calling this a public health problem. Those who pay attention know that traffic deaths number in the 40,000s each year, but too many people don't know this.

  • Someone is still missing the point here, as we can note at the end of the article: "Last month, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, based in Washington, D.C., rated states based on their traffic laws. The organization, which is composed of insurance, consumer, health and law-enforcement agencies, called for tougher laws for seat belts, child booster seats and motorcycle helmets."

    Seat belts, booster seats, and helmets aren't going to make TRAFFIC safer, they're just going to make it easier to survive crashes. The point here is to make traffic safer by decreasing congestion.

    And the best way to do that? FEWER CARS ON THE ROAD. More transit, more bicycling and pedestrian commuting, etc. Complete streets.


$1,218 PER PERSON
Columbus area pays price for crashes
Thursday, March 6, 2008 3:39 AM
By Tim Doulin

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Drivers are often reminded of how much money they spend sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

But that's nothing compared with actually colliding with somebody's bumper.

Traffic crashes cost Americans more than $164 billion a year, while they cost about $1,218 a year per person in metropolitan Columbus, according to a report released yesterday by the AAA.

The total national cost from crashes was more than twice the $67.6 billion a year U.S. drivers spend as a result of traffic congestion, the report says.

The AAA called for lawmakers to step up traffic-safety measures.

"Great work has been done by the Texas Transportation Institute to quantify the costs of congestion, raise awareness for the problem and offer solutions," Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"We feel safety deserves a similar focus."

Traffic congestion creates a $78 billion-a-year drain on the U.S. economy in the form of 4.2 billion lost hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel, according to the Texas Transportation Institute.

But nationwide, traffic crashes cost $1,051 per person each year, the AAA report said, compared with an annual congestion cost of $430 per person. The report calculated such things as medical costs, emergency and police services, property damage and lost productivity.

Crash costs in the Columbus area were more than $2 billion a year, compared with about $18 billion in the New York metropolitan area. But the per-person cost is $1,218 in Columbus, compared with $962 in the New York area.

The AAA said total crash costs correspond with the size of the metropolitan area. Larger cities have more traffic and a greater likelihood of crashes, so the total costs are higher because of a multiplier of factors. But on a per-person basis, smaller cities have higher costs.

"While in the larger cities, there is more traffic and a greater likelihood of crashes," AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter said, "in heavy congestion traffic, crashes tend to be less severe.

"Because smaller metropolitan areas are not as congested, drivers in small cities can maintain higher speeds and increase the likelihood of increased crash severity."

The AAA recommends that lawmakers focus on traffic safety, such as tougher drunken-driving laws and passage of a "primary enforcement" seat-belt law, meaning an officer could stop and cite a driver for not wearing a seat belt.

Last month, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, based in Washington, D.C., rated states based on their traffic laws. The organization, which is composed of insurance, consumer, health and law-enforcement agencies, called for tougher laws for seat belts, child booster seats and motorcycle helmets.

Ohio was one of 13 "yellow states," meaning it had made progress but still had gaps in its highway safety laws.

"There are too few states that have all the essential traffic safety laws we need to protect our citizens," said Jackie Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

"This is a really, really serious public-health problem. But I think what is happening is people just sort of become immune to it."

tdoulin@dispatch.com


People, not speed.

No comments:

Post a Comment