Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

The cost of motor vehicle crashes

By Mary Owens
Buckle Up Coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line

There is a topic that few people think about and it rarely makes the news; yet it costs Montananís millions of dollars each year and causes untold heartache. We are talking about the cost of vehicle death-related crashes. Montana taxpayers pay $205 million each year due to motor vehicle death-related crashes. This number does not reflect the entire USA, only Montana. That is $205 million dollars EVERY YEAR! While $2 million of this goes toward medical costs, the other $203 million is from the loss of productivity over that personís life span; hence, the younger the person, the greater that cost. Businesses, hospitals, communities and families pay this incredible sum. Even more significant than the financial costs are the emotional costs to the families left behind. No one can put a price tag on their suffering. The cost of motor vehicle crashes is one of the most significant financial and emotional cost Montananís pay.

On average, 200 Montanans die on our roadways each year. There are also over 8,000 serious injuries. Twenty percent of those injuries are categorized as ďincapacitating,Ē meaning that the person can no longer walk, drive or normally continue the activities he or she was capable of doing before the injury occurred. Remember, we are just talking about Montana; 8,000 roadway injuries every year, just in Montana alone!

For many readers, we have revealed an unspoken repeating tragedy. Thankfully, there is an easy solution. In 2010, only 33 percent of vehicle occupants killed in collisions on Montanaís roadways were wearing seat belts. If everyone had been wearing a seatbelt, approximately 50 lives could have been saved. Thatís 50 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and friends who would have survived every year if only they had been wearing their seatbelt.

Armed with this information, let us all put forth a call to action. Letís make seatbelts the topic of conversation at your next staff meeting. Letís make seatbelts the topic of conversation at the next school assembly. Letís make seatbelts the topic of conversation TONIGHT at dinner with your family. Talk to your kids frequently about seatbelt safety and set an example by wearing your own. Talk to your employer about implementing a seatbelt policy. Remind your neighbor to put on their seatbelt the next time you see them pulling out of their driveway. And last but not least, make sure everyone in your car is buckled, every trip, every time. You just might save a life, and that life could be your own.

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