Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear rubberneckers, wake up and smell the math

One would be hard-pressed to find an agency that can out-crunch the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They have an insatiable appetite for crash data (except for actual determination of fault, but that’s a story for another day).
In a report released this month, NHTSA dedicates 300 pages to the economic and societal impacts of motor vehicle crashes. “The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes” is actually a fascinating read, not just for the stats, but for the topics that make up the ingredients.

Did you know they have formulas to calculate the effects of “rubbernecking” on congestion and crashes? They do, and the formulas are complex. The numbers shift depending on the type of roadway, direction of traffic, speed, number of vehicles, etc.

There’s a good chance that you’ve seen someone crash – or nearly crash – as traffic slams on the brakes to get a look at another crash scene.

It’s human nature to gawk, and the scientists are compelled to analyze the gawking. And now, we’re rubbernecking their report.

Below are some highlights of the report, which focuses on the year 2010, and does not separate cars and trucks.

  • 33,000 fatalities and 3.9 million injuries
  • 4,288 fatalities on interstates (13 percent of total)
  • Economic impact of each fatality: $1.4 million
  • 24 million vehicles damaged
  • $277 billion in economic costs (vehicle damage, lost productivity, medical bills)
  • $871 billion in societal harm (described as quality of life)
  • Effects of congestion: $28 billion
  • Average liability claim for insured’s vehicles: $3,122
  • Average liability claim for other vehicles: $2,547
The crash figures and number crunching in the report are quite thorough, at least in the areas the scientists find important.

I don’t have the heart to tell them they misspelled “Interstate” on Page 227.