Fatality Crashes Also Come With High Financial Cost

Sixty-nine people have lost their lives on Austin roads. The city has surpassed the number of deadly crashes this year compared to all of 2014. Nationally fatal crashes are up 14 percent.

Experts say while there is certainly an emotional cost associated with those deaths, there is also a financial one. The nonprofit, National Safety Council says fatality collisions have cost us $152 billion already this year.

UT Transportations Research Director Chandra Bhat said time sitting is traffic is part of the calculated cost of accidents. "That's a huge amount of cost, absolutely, and it can add up very quickly," said Bhat.

The costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, employer costs and property damage.

So what's the solution to the uptick in fatal crashes? KEYE asked Austinites.

"Maybe the police being out there more and patrolling traffic," said Rick Nichols.

"I think it would be helpful if there were actually more transit options," said another commuter.

Others said they believe lowering the speed limit might help.

Bhat says there is no one answer to the problem -- rather a smorgasbord of ideas. Still, he along with Austin Police and several drivers KEYE spoke to say it starts with personal responsibility.

"People have to take accountability for how they are driving and walking in the streets," said driver, Annie Aguirre.

Bhat attributes the uptick in deadly crashes to many things including the drop in both gas prices and unemployment. Both factors often lead to more people commuting and traveling. Bhat also believes more people are distracted by their smart phones and other devices.

By Sarah Navoy

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