Costly crashes cost Americans billions each year

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(WVLT) It's a staggering amount.

More than 164 billion dollars.

That's how much traffic crashes cost American drivers every year.

That's according to a study released today by AAA.

Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman has more.

Some categories researchers took into account are lost earnings, medical costs, emergency services, legal costs, and travel delays.

Don Lindsey with AAA of East Tennessee says, "anytime there's a crash, it affects all of us."

But how do those billions of dollars breakdown to your pocket book and mine?

It comes out to $1,051 dollars per person a year.

Lindsey says, "if you throw in property damage crashes from a minor fender bender on up, we're talking multiple billions more."

Here in Knoxville traffic crashes are all too common.

Mike Lewis is a State Farm Agent in Knoxville and says, "I think you have to go to Memphis, Jim, probably to find a place where there's more accidents per capita than Knox County."

To help cut down on accidents, looking ahead and spacing are two keys the experts point out along with proper maintenance.

Lewis says, "make sure that you're not on bald tires and your brakes work and your brake lights work."

Josh Rosenbaum says, "I have my brakes checked once every two months."

Reading the owner's manual is not a bad idea.

Don Lindsey with AAA of East Tennessee says, "look at that. See what the maintenance schedule is and follow that. It's really simple."

Matt McWhirter says, "for about 30 years or so in driving, I haven't had any accidents, mostly luck, some of it's preventative maintenance."

Some states like, Pennsylvania, require annual vehicle inspections.

Tennessee doesn't, but what if it did?

Lewis says, "I think it would be helpful whether or not it's feasible, I don't know."

How would you track its effectiveness?

"Typically, you can't measure how much it's helped, and that's a difficult problem."

For now, being more careful and proactive may be the best way to help do your part in saving some of those billions of dollars.

McWhirter says, "that's a lot of money that could be put to use in a lot better ways."

AAA recommends that lawmakers make safety more of a priority in their transportation planning and pursue measures such as stiffer laws on drunken and impaired driving.

Also recommended is that all states pass primary enforcement seat belt laws, which allow law enforcement officers to stop drivers if their only offense is failing to buckle up.

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