Weighing accident costs

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A typical police-reported large truck crash might cost around $6,800 in property damage and medical costs, but the true costs are far larger, according to a study prepared for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Landover, Md., estimated that a police-reported large truck crash costs about $69,000 in lost productivity and reduced quality of life, including pain and suffering.

Not surprisingly, these costs grow dramatically when the crash results in an injury. The Pacific Institute pegged the total cost of a typical injury crash at $217,000. The medical and property damage costs more than double to about $15,000, but the costs in productivity and quality of life losses jump to almost $202,000. The institute estimated the cost of a typical fatal large truck crash at $3.42 million.

The cost of large truck crashes in 1997 exceeded $24 billion, including $8.7 billion in productivity losses, $2.5 billion in resource costs and $13.1 billion in quality of life losses.

The FMCSA-commissioned study includes no policy recommendations, but it could prove important nevertheless. Government agencies use studies such as this in justifying the costs imposed by its regulations. The institute’s findings, therefore, might be used in a cost/benefit analysis of, for example, a revised hours-of-service regulation.