Crashes and Standard of Living

In an article from the New Scientist from 1972, I came across this interesting little note:

“In the US a recent survey demonstrated how serious can be the social consequences [of a serious injury from a road crash]: half of the severely injured in one year were forced permanently to lower their living standards.”

I don’t know what the survey was and the exact mechanism used in gauging living standards but the finding is striking; it also points to something that is often overlooked in road safety, which tends to emphasize fatalities — the consequences of non-fatal crashes.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 at 11:56 am and is filed under Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Crashes and Standard of Living”

  1. Zebee Says:

    Follow up on survivors of motorcycle crashes has shown that they are at a high risk of serious depression and possibly suicide. (This isn’t published research, it’s followup via hospital outreach) Seems to affect motorcyclists more because they usually aren’t riding as a form of transport but because they enjoy it and if they can’t ride because of injury it hits them hard.

    Only counting fatals is a problem for motorcycle safety because the difference between a fatal and a serious injury can be a tenth of a second or a degree of angle. There are fewer bikes, so fewer fatals, so not enough useful information. Also a car to car non-fatal would be a car to bike fatal like as not, but because non-fatals aren’t counted any information from them such as road conditions or driver attitude isn’t counted either. If more attention was paid to nonfatals we might get more attention paid to what is making crashes happen. (Although there will never be the politcal will to tackle the real problem which is the entitlement to drive)

    Shouldn’t surprise anyone that a serious injury makes a serious difference. This is an ableist world, ask anyone with limited mobility just how easy life is, and ask anyone who has had that disability more than 15 years how easy it used to be.

  2. Michael Prager Says:

    I would imagine that the non-fatal crashes could have huge impacts on the lives of those in the accident and their families. People are permanently disabled, can’t walk, can’t drive, can’t enjoy their quality of life, live with chronic pain, etc. The social cost of all these injuries must be huge in terms of health care, welfare, mental health services, and much more. Think of the impacts on children. I have some back problems which have been very stressful on my family, I can’t imagine if you had a permanent more serious problem.

    Of course, this makes our mission to prevent serious accidents so much more important. It is unacceptable that we have 40,000 deaths and over 2 million injuries each year on our roads. There is so much more that can be done and we need to think differently about how we get around.

  3. Opus the Poet Says:

    As a crash victim who is now unemployable because of my injuries I can state that getting hit with a car definitely lowers your standard of living, and the monetary losses are only the tip of the iceberg.

  4. Catherine Lutz Says:

    Thanks for drawing attention to this, Tom. The impact is monumental when you look at the numbers of people injured and suffering job loss and medical bills year in and year out. 4.1 million people disabled in the last 25 years is a very rough estimate. In research for our book, Carjacked, we interviewed car crash survivors, and their stories are of job loss, medical bills not covered by insurance, and sometimes bankruptcy. In addition, a family member often becomes caretaker for the more seriously injured crash survivors, and he or she, too, gives up a job as a consequence.
    And as Opus and Zebee point out, the emotional toll is huge: 39 percent of the survivors of serious crashes, in one study, suffer PTSD, and depression is also very common.

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



May 2010
« Apr   Jun »

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by