It is simple to understand the idea: the time we spend stuck in traffic takes an economic toll (lost wages, lost sales, etc). Those expenses, in turn, are part of a broader cost to society that we all bear as a result of gridlock (lost productivity, air pollution and its associated medical costs, etc). A recent study by AAA, however, puts forward a, perhaps, more startling idea: that the societal cost of auto accidents is far higher than that of mere congestion.
As outlined in a recent article from The Oregonian, the study put the overall “cost to society” of traffic congestion at $958 million per year for the Portland-Beaverton-Vancouver metro area. An eye-popping figure, to be sure. Using the same data, however, it concluded that “the annual societal cost of traffic crashes… is $2.74 billion.” The analysis was based on 2009 data (the newspaper article, accessed through the link below, includes, in turn, a link to the original report in pdf form).
The article goes on to note that these Oregon car crash figures are roughly in line with national averages. On a national basis the spread between the true cost of vehicle crashes versus the true cost of congestion is $300 billion versus $97.7 billion, making the ratio roughly 3-to-1 at both the state and the national level.
Putting it all in more human terms: those car crash numbers translate on a national basis to 33,000 deaths per year – roughly 635 every week. As a spokeswoman for AAA tells the paper, that many deaths in any other manner would shock the country into immediate action but, for some reason, we appear to view car and truck accidents differently, both here in Oregon and elsewhere in the country.
These numbers remind us of the importance of safety and caution whenever one gets behind the wheel. Oregon traffic accidents can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and even death. An Oregon car crash lawyer can help victims and their families as they fight for justice in the wake of a crash, but it is far better for us all – victims, attorneys and society as a whole – if people drive safely in the first place, thereby limiting the toll that Oregon auto accidents exact on both individuals and on our city, state and nation.