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  1. #1
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    The Real Cost of Driving

    I just received the July 2002 copy of Professional Safety magazine (Vol. 47, No. 7, pg. 12), from the American Society of Safety Engineers. There was a very interesting article on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study. I have the study, downloaded from:

    www.nhtsa.dot.gov

    It's entitled "The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000." Here's the first paragraph of the article:

    "The economic impact ofmotor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways has reached $230.6 billion a year--nearly 2.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product or an average of $820 for every person living in the country--the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports. Using data from the year 2000 (in which 41,821 people were killed, 5.3 million were injured and 27.6 million vehicles were damaged), the agency found that the average readway fatality has economic costs of $977,000, while the costs associated with a critically injured crash survivor surpasses $1 million. The yearly economic costs also include $61 billion in lost workplace productivity; $20.2 billion in lost household productivity; $59 billion in property damage; $32.6 billion in medical costs; and $25.6 billion in travel delay costs."

    The article goes on to "highlight the critical issue of seat belt use. The agency estimates that seat belt use prevents 11,900 fatalities and 325,000 serious injuries--saving $50 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other injury-related costs. 'Conversely, the failure of crash victims to wear seat belts leads to an estimated 9,200 unnecessary fatalities and 143,000 needless injuries, costing $26 billion,' NHTSA states."

    "The statistics also draw attention to another concern--alcohol-involved crashes, which caused an estimated 16,792 fatalities in 2000, as well as 513,000 nonfatal injuries--accountinf for $50.9 billion in economic casts. 'The impact of alcohol involvement increases with injury severity,' NHTSA concludes. 'Crashes linked to alcohol accounted for 46 percent of fatal injury crash costs, 21 percent of nonfatal crash costs and 10 percent of costs in crashes involving property damage only.' To abtain a copy of the report, visit www.nhsta.dot.gov."

    The study itself has interesting charts, which detail the over 1 million deaths since 1975 on our nation's highways, the fatality rates (which have been going down from a high of 35.74 per 100,000 licensed drivers in 1978 to the current year 2000 rate of 21.94), and other interesting information. I would encourage those interested to download this study, by typing in "economic impact" into the NHTSA web page's search engine.

    To me, this gives the bicycling community some much-needed ammo to use in discussing bicycling alternatives, and the need to spend money to get people out of cars and into a safer, saner means of travel. What are your ideas?

    John
    John Ratliff

  2. #2
    Marathon Cyclist MediaCreations's Avatar
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    Originally posted by John C. Ratliff
    The article goes on to "highlight the critical issue of seat belt use. The agency estimates that seat belt use prevents 11,900 fatalities and 325,000 serious injuries--saving $50 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other injury-related costs. 'Conversely, the failure of crash victims to wear seat belts leads to an estimated 9,200 unnecessary fatalities and 143,000 needless injuries, costing $26 billion,' NHTSA states."
    Is it compulsory to wear seat belts in all or any states in the US? It is illegal to drive in Australia without seat belts.

  3. #3
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by John C. Ratliff
    To me, this gives the bicycling community some much-needed ammo to use in discussing bicycling alternatives, and the need to spend money to get people out of cars and into a safer, saner means of travel. What are your ideas?
    Agreed, but then, we've had those reasons for years anyway. The problem has always been that it's just not sexy enough to win votes at the next election.
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    Senior Member Stor Mand's Avatar
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    You should change the name of this thread to "The Real Cost of Crashing".

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by MediaCreations

    Is it compulsory to wear seat belts in all or any states in the US? It is illegal to drive in Australia without seat belts.
    Yes. It's compulsory.
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  6. #6
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting. This is one reason I proudly contribute to MADD every year.
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  7. #7
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by John C. Ratliff
    To me, this gives the bicycling community some much-needed ammo to use in discussing bicycling alternatives, and the need to spend money to get people out of cars and into a safer, saner means of travel. What are your ideas?
    John, I have long wondered how so many fatalities and such gross carnage could be swept under the rug. We have singled out tobacco companies for the human cost of their enterprises, but have been curiously silent about the human cost of automobile accidents. What is not included in your numbers is the human cost of automobile/pedestrian accidents. That should be added, as well.


    "...41,821 people were killed, 5.3 million were injured and 27.6 million vehicles were damaged."
    This sounds like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

    Thanks for your input, John!
    No worries

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    Originally posted by Chris L
    Agreed, but then, we've had those reasons for years anyway. The problem has always been that it's just not sexy enough to win votes at the next election.
    Votes to do exactly what? Ban cars?

  9. #9
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch

    Votes to do exactly what? Ban cars?
    How about votes to actually subsidise other forms of transportation to the same extent that cars are currently subsidised. You'll notice I get no tax credits at all for cycling 20,000km per annum. You'll also notice that my bike does not contribute to the statistics mentioned at the top of this thread.
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  10. #10
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L
    You'll also notice that my bike does not contribute to the statistics mentioned at the top of this thread.
    (I noticed that! )
    No worries

  11. #11
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch

    Votes to do exactly what? Ban cars?
    Let's not go there. Cars are here to stay.

    What we cyclists want is equal asphalt (bitumen,) safe drivers and clean air. (At least, that's my hope.)
    No worries

  12. #12
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch

    Votes to do exactly what? Ban cars?
    And another thing, why is it that every time someone mentions trying to encourage people to use other forms of transport, the old "so you just want to ban cars" comes out? Please note that in over 3,100 posts on this board, I have never seriously suggested banning cars.

    What I have suggested in the past is:

    1. Proper accountability for motorists for their actions (basically equal to the accountability they'd have in any other facet of life).

    2. Proper training for motorists to handle the awesome responsibility that goes with operating a vehicle of that size/weight. (including making it totally clear to them that cyclists are actually legitimate, tax-paying road users. Many of them seem to think otherwise).

    3. Other forms of transport actually receiving equal funding to cars (something else that doesn't happen now).

    Again, please tell me where I have suggested banning cars in all of this.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    There was a question about pedestrians not being addressed in the article. Actually, they weren't addressed in the study either. For this information, go to the following study:

    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/inju...in_report.html

    This will not be too pleasing though, as it looks at the contribution of alcohol to pedestrian fatalities, and alcohol drank by the pedestrians is a significant problem.

    But our concern is about bicycle safety and cars. This also is not addressed in this study. What I'm trying to show is that, although there is a great economic benifit to having the jobs the auto industry provides, there is also a down side, which now is costing us dearly--2.3 percent of our Gross Domestic Product! There probably is not an extended family who hasn't been affected by an auto accident in the last 25 years.

    As bicyclists, we can now show the economic "other side" of driving, and use this information to show that things like freeway widening projects which simply place bottlenecks somewhere else will end up costing us money in the long run. We can ask for planning to get to a supermarket, school, or other infrastructure without having to drive everywhere. We can ask, with some stats to back us up, for greater educational emphasis on driving etiquette, bicycle training programs, and measures to counteract the huge toll that auto accidents are taking on our society. We can ask for some accountability from the auto industry, and not just commercials which show SUV owners ignoring people in distress, or going "zoom zoom."

    If we can do more in these areas, riding bicycles will become a better alternative, and perhaps a bit more accepted by the general public.

    John
    John Ratliff

  14. #14
    Senior Member Bigtime's Avatar
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    You'll notice I get no tax credits at all for cycling 20,000km per annum.
    Chris, if I had my way, you would get a tax credit. A LARGE tax credit. One way to get people to do something they don't want is through incentive. What incentives does your government or ours for that matter give you to ride your bike? Lets start giving out tax credit, shopping discounts, free bikes, whatever it takes. They certainly have the $$ to fund this type of thing.

  15. #15
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    Votes to do exactly what? Ban cars?
    i agree completely with Chris: why is this the normal "car-driver" reaction? just because someone suggests not using huge huge amounts of our public tax money to subsidize and promote and encourage car usage and maybe put some of those resources into something else like cycling... how is that interpreted as "banning cars"?

    as Chris said, i think the post important thing is for Auto Drivers to be made responsible for their actions - only then will safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians really increase

    i think auto users should pay their costs - i.e. the typical US auto registration fee of $30-100 a year plus the taxes they pay in gas are not even close to the public costs of operating a vehicle (there have been many studies, but i have no link, sorry)

    i also think there should be programs to encourage other alternatives to driving. As far as i know in the US, Portland Oregon is the only place that even tries to do this other than a few cities that help subsidize transit passes or require that large companies subsidize employee transit passes (Houston TX did that when i loved there). of course Portland has a theme of trying "to get people out of their cars". i'm not up on the laws, but basically Portland
    * requires bicycle parking facilities at businesses with a certain number of emplyees (i think) -- unfortunately they also require an excessively large MINIMUM number of parking spots for cars
    * has a free program to install bike racks in communities or for businesses where customers call and request and then it is considered (like the local convenience store)
    * requires companies to subsidize part of the cost of transit passes
    * promotes cycling with bike maps, bike to work day, good bike route design, especially near large freeways and bridges
    * provides secure bike lockers downtown
    * allows bikes on busses and rail

    i think the tax credit for cycle commuting is a great idea and one that could actually be economical and serve companies' interests too. most local ordinances REQUIRE most businesses to build a certain amount of parking spaces (for either customers or employees) and these costs also factor into the company's costs --- either as a per-employee cost or a per-x-customer cost --- imagine if a company with 1000 employees could reduce their parking lot from 1100 spaces to 600 spaces (assuming 100 for visitors) by half of their workers either cycling, walking, car-pooling or taking public transit.

    at the very minimum, funds can be used to help ensure:
    * that an alternative to the auto is POSSIBLE - i.e. that you don't have the situation where you need to get from point a to b and the only way is the multilane freeway or the interstate bridge with no shoulder and no bike/pedestrian crossing
    * that cyclists are relatively safe on the road (mostly be making motorists accountable as i mention above) but also by educating motorists through signs, heck, maybe even adds (there are public service adds against drunk driving, why not against general wreckless or unfriendly or unsafe driving, particularly when seen from the perspective of pedestrians or cyclists)

    on a related note, does anyone know if ISTEA has been renewed or what it's future is (under the Bush administration and the "tax cut and spend everything on the military" regime i think it looks bad) --- oh, that's Inter-modal Surface Transportation Act which as i understand was a federal act to allow states some flexibility in how they spent federal transportation dollars providing the choice to spend on cycling or pedestrian projects instead of being designated as "auto-facilties", with a certain percentage ear-marked for non-auto things. i think it was originally passed in like '91 and trhen renewed in '96 or so (i'm guessing) and i think due to expire some time in the last year or so.

    although much of the money went to bikepaths of questional overall assistance to cycling (see other BF threads), many good things were done - for example Portland was able to finance bicycle bridge crossing and re-design cycle-unfriendly intersections, etc.
    why drive when you can ride?
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    OK, no more "ban the car" pronouncements from me. Please bear in mind that I am a serious, dedicated bike-commuter. I also love my car.

    I just don't buy the prevailing opinion that dramatic changes must occur in order to make my bike-commuting experience better than it is. I am perfectly content with my lot. I co-exist with cars. I recognize that roads are built for them, not for us. I deal with it.

    I view most attempts to improve our lot through governmental agaencies (e.g., bike lanes) as being full of unintended consequences.

    Advocacy in this regard (e.g., San Francisco Critical Mass lunacy) often backfires.

    If you do accept the need for dramatic change, I contend that the only way we're going to improve our lot is to dramatically increase our numbers. Sorry, but roads are for cars (or internal combustion vehicles in general). Sure, bicycles are "vehicles", but roads are clearly not built for our type of vehicle.

    Why?

    Because there are so few of us and so many of them.

    Tax credits? You've got to be kidding. What lawmaker would possibly spend more than 5 minutes' time dealing with a bicycling advocacy issue like this?

    A better bet would be to go through private institutions. We bike-commuters commute to work after all. Argue the direct savings a bike-commuter provides to the company health plan, and encourage others.

    But it all comes down to demand. We are an invisible group; the less-than-one-percenters. And far too often we have Critical Mass-type idiots representing us, which paints us as lunatics (not an indictment of posters here).

    So what is the goal of taking the data described earlier if it is not to effectively restrict the rights of automobile drivers? And if this is the case, we're vastly outnumbered.

    Me? I'll wave to considerate motorists, stare down inconsiderate ones, and along the way they'll become more familiar with me and with other bike-commuters. I hope my fellow bikers don't work against my efforts.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Bigtime's Avatar
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    Tax credits? You've got to be kidding. What lawmaker would possibly spend more than 5 minutes' time dealing with a bicycling advocacy issue like this?
    Well, several states including Georgia, Arizona, and California have provided tax incentives for purchasing Low Emission Vehicles in the past. I believe the government also gives a 2,000 dollar tax credit if you own a clean fuel vehicle such as powered by an electric motor. They certainly have done it for vehicles, I see no reason why they could not apply something like this to bike commuters.

  18. #18
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    No worries

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    Passing the tax exemption on to bike-commuters seems reasonable. But (a) did it pass and (b) how much an effect would this have? I mean, $175? And an exemption (not a credit)? Am I reading this right?

    Also, from Earl's quote contained in the link: Forty percent of our daily auto trips are within two miles of the drivers' home.

    This is misleading isn't it? The exemption would only cover commuting as I understand it. But the above quote covers all auto trips.

    Don't get me wrong. This is not entirely useless. But very close!! I am not arguing against these or similar measures. But I am saying (once again) that the demand for autos explains the prevelance of autos. Pure and simple.

    There is no similar demand for bikes.

  20. #20
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Nathank,

    What is the the driving you see in Germany? What are the repercussions of causing an accident there?

    John
    John Ratliff

  21. #21
    Senior Member Bigtime's Avatar
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    But (a) did it pass and (b) how much an effect would this have? I mean, $175? And an exemption (not a credit)? Am I reading this right?
    A) As far as I can tell it is still being discussed by the Ways and Means committee, even though it was introduced over a year ago. B) This type of legislation will have little effect, IMO. But I appreciate LBM posting the link, and I think his point was to show you that some lawmakers are at least making an attempt. The forty percent quote was not meant to encompass the Commuting Act, but I think rather to suggest that maybe we should ride our bikes on these short trips which make up a good portion of auto usage.
    Passing the tax exemption on to bike-commuters seems reasonable.
    Ahh, there it is. Thank you sir.
    Now I can go on record as saying I agree with your post
    -BT

  22. #22
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    http://www.commuterchoice.com/employ...?elink=support
    (see especially, "Parking Cash-Out.")

    Government subsidies already work for me. You can choose to ignore them if you want, but if you're paying taxes, why not get some of it back? The folks at Enron sure got their share.
    No worries

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    With all these incentives then, why are bike-commuters so rare?

  24. #24
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    With all these incentives then, why are bike-commuters so rare?
    Incentives for bicycle commuting are practically non-existant. Incentives are primarily for all other alternatives to single-occupant vehicle commuting, such as mass-transit and carpooling.
    Bike commuters are rare because we are just plain WEIRD!

    Your point, as I understand it from previous posts, is that people drive because they prefer to. While this is obviously the case, one would have to wonder if they would still prefer to drive as much if the cost of doing so became prohibitive.

    I have already determined that overdependence on cars was, for me, too costly, economically, healthwise and in terms of my quality of life.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 07-20-02 at 09:43 PM.
    No worries

  25. #25
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    With all these incentives then, why are bike-commuters so rare?
    Perhaps because every single car on the road is so heavily subsidised.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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