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Employers pay for injuries that occur both on and off the job. In 1998–2000, motor vehicle crashes annually killed more than 2,100 people while they were working and injured 353,000. More than half of the injuries forced people to miss work. Overall, on-the-job crash injuries (fatal and non-fatal) amounted to about 6.5 percent of all crash injuries.

Motor vehicle crash injuries on and off the job cost employers nearly $60 billion annually in 1998–2000. One third of this cost resulted from off-the-job injuries to workers and their dependents. Motor vehicle crashes imposed a $16.3 billion health-related fringe benefit bill for employers. Employer health care (medical) cost of crash injuries was $7.7 billion. Another $8.6 billion was spent on sick leave and life and disability insurance for crash victims. Off-the-job crash injuries cost nearly $13 billion, accounting for 80 percent of the health-related fringe benefit costs of motor vehicle crashes. Off-the-job crash injuries comprised an even larger share of employer health care costs (92 percent).

The annual employer cost of motor vehicle crashes in which at least one driver was alcohol-impaired is more than $9 billion, including wage-risk premiums. Restraint non-use by on-the-job employees cost employers exceeds $1 billion a year in fringe benefit costs. A larger $3.9 billion employer bill results from restraint non-use by employees and their benefit-eligible dependents while away from work.

Employer costs of motor vehicle crash injuries vary widely by state and industry. These costs exceed $3.5 billion in each of the nation’s two most populous states – California and New York. Costs are highest in the agriculture, land transportation, heavy construction, and mining sectors. When comparing costs between states and industries, one should be aware that differences in injury severity, age of workforce, regional and local characteristics, and completeness of reporting play a significant role in the variance.

Prevention is an important way to control health care costs arising from injuries. This report demonstrates that by increasing restraint use and reducing alcohol-impaired driving, the potential health care savings are substantial. Motor vehicle injury costs to employers are reported on a nationwide, state-by-state, and industry basis. The report updates the national estimates of employer costs of crashes presented in NHTSA’s report “What Do Traffic Crashes Cost? Total Cost to Employers by State and Industry” (1996) and adds estimates of alcohol involvement and restraint non-use.

Employer's Motor Vehicle Crash Costs (In millions of 2000 dollars.)

Crash Injury





Health Fringe Benefit Costs




Non-Fringe Costs








Wage-Risk Premiums









A number of different sources were used to develop the estimates. These included NHTSA’s 1998–2000 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS); the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2000 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI); the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2000 Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness (SOII); the 1987–1992 National Health Interview Survey; NHTSA’s The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2000; and NHTSA’s The Cost of Injuries to Employers: A NETS Compendium, 1996. Employer crash costs were adjusted to specific states using ratios of state to national costs. Medical and composite item state price adjusters were calculated from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index. A wage adjuster was calculated from estimates of personal income per capita by state in the 2000 Statistical Abstract of the United States.


Traffic safety programs are an alternative to reduce health care expenses to employers without reducing the benefits offered to employees. Protecting employees from motor vehicle crash injury can be a profitable investment of time and resources. Totally eliminating alcohol-impaired and unrestrained driving would save employers $15 billion annually.