Car crashes send 2.5 million people to the hospital per year

Motor vehicle accidents put a major strain on the health care system

By Joanna Rothkopf
Published October 10, 2014 7:13PM (EDT)
  (<a href='url to photographer'>Robert Crum</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Robert Crum via Shutterstock)

Car crashes send more than 2.5 million people to the emergency room every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vital Signs report. 200,000 of those visits result in extended stays, and lifetime medical expenses total $18 million.

The majority of accidents involved teens, young adults and people over the age of 80.

Think Progress' Sam P.K. Collins reports:

While lifetime medical costs for injuries from motor vehicle collisions dropped $1.7 billion between 2002 and 2012, traffic accidents still count as the primary cause of injury in the United States, according to the CDC. The outcome for all parties involved can be deadly. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported more than 33,000 deaths by motor vehicle collision. Experts say key causes include distracted driving, speeding and reckless driving, and running red lights and stop signs.

Recent research has also cited driver exhaustion as a key factor in motor vehicle collisions. In a 2013 report, researchers likened driving while sleepy -- also known as "drowsy driving" -- to drunk driving in the sense that it poses just as great a risk for injury and fatalities.

"Motor vehicle crash injuries occur all to frequently and have health and economic costs for individuals, the health care system, and society," said Ileana Arias, the CDC's principal deputy director. "Together we can reduce motor vehicle crash injuries, we can reduce their costs, and we can also reduce their impact on our families and our communities."

Joanna Rothkopf

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Car Accidents Crashes Driving Health Care Hospital Injury