New CDC Vital Signs Report Shows Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries are Frequent and Costly

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Americans spend more than 1 million days in the hospital each year from crash injuries.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury in the US - harmful and expensive.
In 2012, nearly 7,000 people went to the emergency department every day due to car crash injuries,” said CDC Deputy Director, Ileana Arias, PhD

More than 2.5 million people went to the emergency department (ED) – and nearly 200,000 of them were hospitalized – because of motor vehicle crash injuries in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lifetime medical costs for these crash injuries totaled $18 billion. This includes approximately $8 billion for those who were treated in the ED and released and $10 billion for those who were hospitalized. Lifetime work lost because of 2012 crash injuries cost an estimated $33 billion.

“In 2012, nearly 7,000 people went to the emergency department every day due to car crash injuries,” said CDC Deputy Director, Ileana Arias, PhD. “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.”

Key findings include:

  • On average, each crash-related ED visit costs about $3,300 and each hospitalization costs about $57,000 over a person’s lifetime.

     o More than 75 percent of costs occur during the first 18 months following the crash injury.

  • Teens and young adults (15-29 years old) are at especially high risk for motor vehicle crash injuries, accounting for nearly 1 million crash injuries in 2012 (38 percent of all crash injuries that year).
  • One-third of adults older than 80 years old who were injured in car crashes were hospitalized – the highest of any age group.
  • There were almost 400,000 fewer ED visits and 5,700 fewer hospitalizations from motor vehicle crash injuries in 2012 compared to 2002. This equals $1.7 billion in avoided lifetime medical costs and $2.3 billion in avoided work loss costs.

For this Vital Signs report, CDC analyzed ED visits due to crash injuries in 2012 using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program and the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. The number and rate of all crash injury ED visits, treated and released visits, and hospitalized visits were estimated, as were the associated number of hospitalized days and lifetime medical costs.

Vital Signs is a monthly report that appears as part of the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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