Everyone knows that the human costs associated with the many thousands of car accidents and other motor vehicle crashes occurring across the country each year are truly tragic.
Economically, too, the numbers are staggering, as revealed by statistics released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). In 2005, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available, the CDC estimates that crash-related deaths resulted in more than $40 billion in medical and work loss costs.
Accidents in 10 states alone — Ohio included — were responsible for more than half of those costs. In a rather dubious list, California ranked first, with costs of more than $4 billion. Ohio ranked ninth, with costs of approximately $1.25 billion.
Statements made by CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden drive home strongly the organization’s view that there is no panacea for preventing deaths and reducing accidents on the nation’s roadways. Rather, obvious and proven factors that contribute to enhanced safety are repeatedly stressed. The following comment from Frieden accompanied the CDC report: “Seat belts, graduated driver’s license programs, child safety seats and helmet use save lives and reduce health care costs.”
The CDC recommends especially that states have primary seat belt laws, a graduated driver’s license (“GDL”) system for new drivers and mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists.
Presently, 31 states have primary belt laws. Ohio is not one of them. A seat belt infraction is deemed a secondary offense in the state, meaning that a police officer must first have another reason for stopping a motorist before the driver can be cited for unlawful belt use.
Ohio adopted a three-stage GDL program for new licensees relatively early among states, enacting legislation that took full effect on January 1, 1999.
Helmet use for motorcyclists riding inside Ohio is partially mandatory, that is, riders and their passengers under the age of 18 must wear helmets, with riders and passengers 18 and over being exempt from a requirement to do so.
Related Resource: Newstar Media, “Car Accidents and Crash Deaths Cost $41 Billion in Lawyers and Medical Fees Annually According to CDC” May 21, 2011