Holidays Are Coming! Be Safe on the Highways

The cost and crashworthiness of vehicles as well as drivers’ safety habits affect the cost of auto insurance. Out of concern for public safety and to help reduce the cost of crashes, insurers support safe driving initiatives. It is a major supporter of anti-drunk driving and seatbelt usage campaigns.


  • Airbags: Airbags are designed to inflate in moderate to severe frontal crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that frontal airbags saved 2,204 lives in 2011. Airbags, combined with seatbelts, are the most effective safety protection available for passenger vehicles. Seatbelts alone reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent. The fatality-reducing effectiveness for airbags is 14 percent when no seatbelt is used and 11 percent when a seatbelt is used in conjunction with airbags. Side airbags, which protect the head, chest and abdomen, reduce driver deaths by an estimated 37 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
  • Seatbelts: Among passenger vehicle occupants over the age of four, seatbelts saved an estimated 11,949 lives in 2011 and 292,471 lives from 1975 through 2011. In fatal crashes in 2011, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed.
  • Child Safety Seats: NHTSA says that in 2011 the lives of an estimated 263 children under the age of five were saved by restraints.
  • Motorcycle Helmets: NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 703 lives could have been saved.
  • Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. In other words, for every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.


The estimated cost of motor vehicle crash-related deaths, injuries and property damage was $276.6 billion in 2012, a 5 percent increase from 2011, according to provisional data in an April 2013 report by the National Safety Council (NSC). The costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage. The number of motor vehicle deaths rose by 5 percent in 2012, according to the NSC. This would mark the first annual increase since 2005. There were an estimated 11.49 motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 population in 2012, an increase of 4 percent from the 2011 rate. The estimated annual mileage death rate was 1.23 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2012, an increase of 4 percent from the 2011 rate. (Note: National Safety Council figures are not comparable to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures below. The NSC counts both traffic and non-traffic deaths that occur within a year of the accident, while NHTSA counts only traffic deaths that occur within 30 days.)

According to preliminary data from NHTSA, in 2012, 34,080 people died in motor vehicle crashes, up 5.3 percent from 32,367 in 2011. 2012 marked the first year-to-year increase in motor vehicle crash fatalities since 2005. Vehicle miles traveled in 2012 increased about 0.3 percent, and the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled is estimated to have increased to 1.16 fatalities, compared with 1.10 fatalities in 2011. NHTSA property damage figures shown below are based on accidents reported to the police and do not include fender bender accidents. courtesy of