Letters

Letters Buckling up saves lives, money

To the editor:

With most states facing drastic budget deficits, governments are examining expenditures and looking for efficient ways to save money within the state. One of the greatest cost savings to the state is getting people to buckle their safety belts on each and every ride. This simple, habitual action can not only save lives, it can save significant amounts of money each year.

According to The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000, the cost of motor vehicle crashes that occurred in 2000 totaled $230.6 billion. This is equal to approximately $820 for each person living in the United States, and translates to increased taxes, health care, and insurance costs borne by society rather than by crash victims. On average, inpatient hospital care costs for unbuckled crash victims are 50 percent higher than for those who are belted � and society bears 85 percent of those costs, not the individuals involved.

Private insurers pay half of all motor vehicle crash costs, individual crash victims pay approximately 26 percent, and third parties such as uninvolved motorists delayed in traffic, charities, and health care providers pay about 14 percent. Overall, those not directly involved in crashes pay for nearly three quarters of all crashes, primarily through insurance premiums, taxes and travel delay.

Over the last 26 years, safety belts have prevented 135,000 fatalities and 3.8 million injuries. This saved society $585 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury related economic costs. During the same period, nearly 315,000 additional fatalities and 5.2 million serious injuries could have been prevented by safety belts if all occupants had used them. This represents an economic loss of $913 billion in unnecessary expenses and lost productivity.

Buckling up is still the most effective and immediate way

to save lives, reduce injuries, and reduce economic costs from crashes on America's roadways. Because we are all personally and financially affected when even one person does not buckle up, we all must be a part of the solution. It's simple � make sure every passenger is buckles up on every ride.

Sincerely,

Lou R. DeCarolis, Ph.D

Regional administrator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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