ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 1 – The Transportation Construction Coalition, of which NSSGA is a member, unveiled a highway safety study today that finds that half of U.S. highway fatalities are related to deficient roadway conditions. Unsafe road conditions are a more lethal factor than drunk driving, speeding or non-use of safety belts, according to the landmark study. The report is the first of its kind in more than 20 years and examines the role and consequences of deficient roadway conditions in U.S. motor vehicle crashes.
NSSGA Chairman of the Board Gerard Geraghty, president and CEO, Rogers Group, Inc., said, “This study presents a much higher percentage (50 percent) of fatalities attributed to unsafe roads than the information we had previously. It also shows the escalating and unacceptable costs of not repairing and improving our half-century-old highway infrastructure, which is beginning to crumble due to inadequate investment in maintenance. We believe in freedom of mobility. Drivers on U.S. roads should expect the platforms upon which they operate to be safe. Americans and Congress should know that lives—lots of lives—can be saved by improving the conditions of our roads now.”
The report, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, finds that 10 roadway-related crashes occur every minute (5.3 million a year) and that deficient road conditions also contribute to 38 percent of non-fatal injuries. Further, the report reveals that deficiencies in the roadway environment contributed to more than 22,000 fatalities and cost the nation more than $217 billion annually. The report concludes that making the roadway environment more protective and forgiving is essential to reducing highway fatalities and costs.
Entitled “On a Crash Course: The Dangers and Health Costs of Deficient Roadways,” the study says that the $217 billion cost of deficient roadways dwarfs the costs of other safety factors, including $130 billion for alcohol, $97 billion for speeding and $60 billion for failing to wear a safety belt. The $217 billion figure is more than three-and-one-half times the amount of money government at all levels is investing annually in roadway capital improvements —$59 billion, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
The report finds that roadway related crashes impose $20 billion in medical costs; $36 billion in productivity costs; $52 billion in property damage and other resource costs; and $99 billion in quality of life costs, which measure the value of pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life by those injured or killed in crashes and their families. The report also finds that crashes linked to road conditions cost American businesses an estimated $22 billion at a time when many firms are struggling. According to the report, crashes linked to road conditions cost taxpayers more than $12 billion every year.
The safety report analyzes crash costs on a state-by-state basis and finds that Alabama incurs the highest total costs from crashes involving deficient road conditions followed by California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. PIRE is a leading independent transportation safety research organization. It has conducted research for a range of organizations, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Safety Council and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Drawing upon the most recent available data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, PIRE employed analytic modeling methods to evaluate the causes and costs of U.S. motor vehicle crashes in preparing “On a Crash Course: The Dangers and Health Costs of Deficient Roadways.”
The TCC commissioned the report in order to assist in educating members of Congress about the need to boost investment aimed at improving the roadway environment as part of the reauthorization process. The TCC will be issuing a press release in all 50 states, which contains data specific to each state.