|Motor vehicle crash injuries on and off the job cost employers almost $55 billion in 1994. One-third of this cost resulted from off-the-job injuries to workers and their dependents. Motor vehicle crashes imposed over an $18 billion health fringe benefit bill on employers. Employer health care (medical) spending on crash injuries was nearly $9 billion. Another $9 billion was spent on sick leave and life and disability insurance for crash victims. Off-the-job crash injuries cost over $14 billion, accounting for 78% of motor vehicle crash health fringe benefit costs. Off-the-job injuries comprised an even larger share of total employer health care spending on crash injuries (88%). To produce profits equal to employer costs of motor vehicle-related injury, employers would need $547 billion in sales—over four times the annual growth in the U.S. economy.
Employers pay for injuries that occur both on and off the job. In 1994, motor vehicle crashes killed an estimated 2,000 people while they were working and injured 323,000. Over half of the injuries forced people to miss work. Overall, on-the-job crash injuries (fatal and non-fatal) amounted to about 6.2% of all crash injuries.
Employer costs of crashes exceed $4 billion in each of the nation’s two most populous states—California and New York. They are highest in the agriculture, land transportation, heavy construction, and mining sectors. Employer costs of motor vehicle crash injuries vary widely by state and industry. Cost comparisons between states and industries are inadvisable due to differences in injury severity and completeness of reporting.
Managed health care has helped contain escalating medical costs. However, prevention is the only solution to control health care costs arising from injuries. This report shows that by preventing motor vehicle crashes, the potential health care savings are large. 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 Traffic Safety and Health Care: State and National Estimates of Employer Costs and adds estimates of employer costs by industry. Cost-conscious employers would be wise to evaluate their potential health care savings from traffic safety programs.
A number of different sources were used to develop the estimates. These included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 1993 and 1994 Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS); the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 1994 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI); the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s 1980-1989 National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) data; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 1993 Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness (SOII); the 1987-1992 National Health Interview Survey, Economic Costs of Highway Crashes, 1994; and The Cost of Injuries to Employers: A NETS Compendium. 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 1995 Statistical Abstract of the United States.
In balancing the goals of competitiveness and goodwill to employees, alternative strategies to cost-cutting become attractive. Traffic safety programs are an alternative to reduce health care expenses without reducing the benefits offered to employees. Savings are potentially as high as $50,000 per million vehicle miles of travel. Protecting employees from motor vehicle crash injury can be a profitable investment of time and resources.