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148 Costs of occupant injury in motor vehicle crashes, United States, 2018
  1. David SWedler1,
  2. Ted Miller1,2,
  3. Bruce Lawrence1,
  4. Larry Blincoe3
  1. 1PIRE, Beltsville, USA
  2. 2Curtin University, Perth, Australia
  3. 3NHTSA, Washington, USA


Statement of Purpose This study updates costs for fatal and hospital-treated injuries to vehicle occupants in motor vehicle crashes (MVCs), which last were published in 2005.

Methods/Approach We computed costs of crash injuries to motor vehicle occupants by multiplying 2018 incidence by age group, sex, and injury severity times corresponding unit costs. Nonfatal incidence came from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) and Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) and fatal incidence from Multiple Cause of Death (MCOD) data. Unit medical, work, and quality of life costs over the victim’s remaining lifespan absent the crash came from a validated model that we ran on 2013–2014 NIS and NEDS (the last years coded in the 9th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) that forms the nonfatal costing backbone). We ran a separate published cost model on the 2018 ICD-10 MCOD data. We report all costs in 2020 dollars.

Results Total costs of injuries to occupants in 2018 were $572 billion, or $1,750 per capita The value of lost quality of life comprised 85.3% of costs, work loss 12.0%, and medical costs 2.7%. Fatal injuries were 31% of costs. Male occupants accounted for 58% of costs and had greater per capita costs than women. Costs for children under 16 did not vary by sex, approximately $500 per capita. Occupants ages 16–29 had per capita costs due to occupant injury in 2018, around $3,200, with costs around $2,000 at ages 30–49, and $1,400 at ages 50 and over; male victims had higher costs in each of these age groups.

Conclusions Hospital-treated and fatal motor vehicle occupant costs per capita declined by 28% from 2005 to 2018 and total occupant injuries declined 30% per capita. While costs remain troublingly high, our results can contribute to decisions on vehicle safety and policy interventions.

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