CDC Reports: 2.5 Million Traffic-Accident Related ER Visits Each Year

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injuries from motor vehicle crashes sent more than 2.5 million Americans to the emergency room in 2012. Almost 200,000 were hospitalized due to motor vehicle collisions, said the new federal government report. Medical costs from these traffic accidents reached an estimated $18 billion.

This data means that approximately 7,000 people went to the emergency room daily, due to motor vehicle crash injuries in 2012, reported Ileana Arias, principal deputy director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Motor vehicle crash injuries occur all too frequently and have health and economic costs for individuals, the health care system, and society. We need to do more to keep people safe and reduce crash injuries and medical costs,” said Arias in an agency news release.

The CDC’s Vital Signs report, released October 7, states that the estimated lifetime medical expenses for these crashinjuried is $18 billion, including $10 billion for people admitted to the hospital, and $8 billion for people treated in emergency rooms and released. The report also found that the cost of work lost over a lifetime due to debilitating crash-related injuries in 2012 totaled about $33 billion.

In addition, the report stated that the average lifetime cost of each crash-related emergency room visit was $3,300, and $5,700 for each hospitalization. Over 75 percent of these costs occur during the first 18 months after the injury.

What’s more, the report found that teens and young adults had a significantly higher risk for road crash injuries. Teens and young adults aged 15 to 29 accounted for nearly 1 million of crash related injuries in 2012, or 38 percent. However, older adults over the age of 80 also had the highest rate of hospitalization. One-third of those over 80 injured in crashes ended up hospitalized, according to the report.

The report also released some positive news. According to the report, there were nearly 400,000 fewer emergency room visits in 2012 than in 2002. Also, there were 5,700 fewer hospitalizations for crash-related injuries in 2012 than in 2002. That amounts to approximately $1.7 billion less in lifetime medical costs, as well as $2.3 billion less in cost of work lost over a lifetime due to severe crash injuries, said the report.

“Motor vehicle crashes and related injuries are preventable,” said Gwen Bergen, a behavioral scientist in the division of unintentional injury prevention at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in the CDC news release. “Although much has been done to help keep people safe on the road, no state has fully implemented all the interventions proven to increase the use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts; reduce drinking and driving; and improve teen driver safety,” she noted.

Every small action you take can create a safer driving environment for you and others on the road. To prevent traffic accidents, it is recommended that you:

  • Ensure that your car is in working order
  • Use proper car and safety seats for children
  • Always wear your seat belt
  • Avoid speeding and driving aggressively
  • Avoid driving impaired
  • Be aware of others on the road, including cyclists and motorcyclists


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