Chicago, Illinois – A new report by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows that traffic crashes cost American motorists $164.2 billion per year (all prices U.S.), nearly two and a half times greater than the $67.6 billion price-tag for congestion.

The report demonstrates that traffic safety issues warrant increased attention from the public and policymakers, especially as the U.S. Congress prepares to reauthorize federal transportation programs in 2009.

“Most Americans will be surprised to learn that motor vehicle crashes cost more than the congestion they face on their daily commute to work,” said AAA Chicago regional president Brad Roeber. “Great work has been done by the Texas Transportation Institute to quantify the costs of congestion, raise awareness for the problem and offer solutions. We feel safety deserves a similar focus.”

“Nearly 43,000 people die on the nation’s roadways each year. Yet the annual tally of motor vehicle-related fatalities barely registers as a blip in most people’s minds. It’s time for motor vehicle crashes to be viewed as the public health threat they are. If there were two jumbo jets crashing every week, the government would ground all planes until we fixed the problem. Yet we’ve come to accept this sort of death toll with car crashes.”

The report includes several recommendations to improve safety, including support for a national safety goal of cutting surface transportation fatalities in half by 2025, as recommended by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

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