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Louisiana Car Crashes Total $5.69 Billion
In 2009, car crashes cost the state of Louisiana $5.69 billion, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and the Monroe News Star. This averages $1,119 for every person in Louisiana with a driver's license. Statistics for the year 2000 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put the national cost of car crashes at $230 billion. The NHTSA found that a critically injured car crash survivor could expect on average to incur $1.1 million in crash-related expenses during his or her lifetime. Not included in the figures are the lives lost, ruined, or irrevocably changed by motor vehicle accidents.
The quoted figure includes lost wages, medical bills, litigation costs, and vehicle and property damage of the people involved in the accidents. Noticeably absent from the figures are costs incurred and claims paid by insurance companies, which cause increases in the cost of insurance. Society gets a rather expensive bill as well. Auto accidents increase costs for Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and other government-funded programs. Who ends up paying for this? You, the taxpayer.
Most Auto Accidents Are Preventable
Although all auto accidents are not preventable, most are. Approximately $1.14 billion of the figure noted above was due to alcohol-related accidents. The effect of alcohol on fatal accidents in Louisiana is even more dramatic. In 2009, 48 percent of automobile fatalities were from alcohol-related crashes. This makes Louisiana one of the three worst states in the country for alcohol-related fatalities. According to the NHTSA, Louisiana trailed only Montana and South Carolina in alcohol-related deaths per mile traveled for the years 2007 and 2008.
Louisiana uses a sliding scale of penalties for dealing with drunk drivers. First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000, jailed for six months, and have their licenses suspended for up to 90 days. Repeat offenders can expect to confront much harsher penalties. For example, a fourth DWI conviction in Louisiana calls for a prison term of 10 to 30 years, a $5,000 fine, and confiscation of the driver's vehicle, yet drunk drivers in Louisiana still kill and injure more people than almost anywhere else in the country.
If you or a family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights.