Washington, D.C. – A first-ever report by the American Automobile Association (AAA) has found that crashes involving teenaged drivers aged 15 to 17 in 2006 cost American society more than US$34 billion annually in medical expenses, lost work, property damage, quality of life loss and other related costs.

“The impact of a teen crash extends beyond the emotional tragedies and physical injury at the crash scene, with costs that can extend to employers, families, the government and society overall,” said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO. “These economic figures provide one more reason for legislators to improve graduated driver licensing in their states – a proven measure governments can take to reduce the deadly toll of teen driver crashes.”

The AAA reported that comprehensive graduated driver licensing systems have been shown to reduce fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers by an average of 38 per cent. In 2006, drivers aged 15 to 17 were involved in about 974,000 crashes, injuring 406,427 people and killing 2,541. The total price of US$34.4 billion included US$9.8 billion in costs from fatal crashes, each with an average cost of US$3.841 million per fatality. Injury crashes produced twice the cost of fatal crashes.

“Some of these costs are paid directly by government through Medicaid, police, paramedics and courts,” Darbelnet said. ‘Many other costs, like lost wages, traffic delay and reduced quality of life, don’t show up directly, but also reflect the very large, very real cost of crashes involving teen drivers. States that improve their graduated driver licensing programs will reduce crashes, injuries and deaths for road users of all ages, and reduce crash-related costs that are paid by the state, too.”

Connect with Autos.ca