The following tables were developed to show the costs associated with motor vehicle crashes and specifically how increased seat belt use age could decrease those costs. The data has been limited to occupants of passenger motor vehicles over the age of six.  The (Actual) total number of motor vehicle occupants, the number using seat belts, the number not using seat belts and the expected totals (assuming 100% seat belt use) are shown by injury type for each county.  The costs associated with the injuries are also shown.

Tables - 2014 Costs & Seat Belt Use Savings By County (Excel)

The costs are based on Federal Highway Administration estimates for crashes and are updated to represent 2014 dollars:  each fatality costs $6,493,502; each serious injury costs $323,382; each visible injury costs $90,577; each possible injury costs $60,040.  The costs are comprehensive and encompass many different components including medical, pre-funeral, emergency service, vocational rehabilitation, market production, household production, insurance administration, workplace, legal/court, travel delay and property damage costs. 

Just over 70% of these costs are paid by the general public through insurance premiums, taxes, direct out-of-pocket payments for goods and services and increased charges for medical care.  The other 30% are paid by the individuals involved in the crash.

The number in the “100% Use Expected Totals“ column are the number of persons killed and injured we would have expected if every occupant that was not wearing a seat belt had been wearing a seat belt.  These numbers are based on estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that seat belts are 50% effective in preventing fatalities and serious injuries.

For example, in Nez Perce County, 3 people were killed that were not wearing seat belts.  Assuming they had all been wearing seat belts, half of them would have survived and half would have been killed.  To get the expected number killed, we take half of the persons not wearing seat belts that were killed = 1.5 plus the 2 that were killed wearing a seat belt is equal to 4 (3.5 rounds up to 4).  Add that to the unknown seat belt use, and you would have expected to have 4 people killed (instead of 5) if everyone had been wearing a seat belt.  The other 1 (that would have survived) is added into the serious injuries.  The expected number of serious injuries is equal to the number of belted serious injuries plus half of the unbelted serious injuries plus half of the unbelted people killed plus the people with unknown belt use. (19 + (9/2) + (1.5 prevented fatalities) + 3) = (19 + 4.5 + 1.5 + 3) = 28.  For simplicity, we assume that the serious injuries that would have been prevented became visible injuries.

The savings is equal to the total cost minus the 100% use expected total cost. 

For Nez Perce County in 2014:  $58,569,625 – $48,266,826 = $10,302,800