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Two Costs of Motoring

April 14 2004

Two separate sets of statistics have just been released by the AAA, the USA's largest organization for motorists, showing the high number of deaths to passenger car occupants and the more day-to-day costs per mile of car ownership.

Road Deaths and Injuries


An analysis of PAHO [Pan American Health Organisation] data by the AAA, the country's largest organization for motorists, shows that 80% of all traffic deaths and injuries occur in passenger cars, 13% are injuries and deaths involving pedestrians, 5% motorized two-wheelers and less than 2% [pedal] cyclists. The 80% figure is the highest for any country, although the majority of all road traffic injuries occur in low-to-middle income countries.

PAHO, the American branch of the World Health Organization, released the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention to kick off World Health Day 2004, whose theme is Road Safety. This marks the first time in the WHO's 56-year history that motor vehicle crashes have been highlighted as a health risk.

The US data is in striking contrast to data from less motorized, low-to-middle income countries such as India where car occupants suffer only 5% of traffic injuries, pedestrians more than 40%, occupants of motorized two-wheelers 25% and bicyclists approximately 15%.

AAA is reminding motorists that 'buckling up' is the single most important thing they can do for their health. 'Wearing your seatbelt not only saves your life, but also protects loved ones who are riding in the same vehicle', said Robert L. Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA, noting that the 'epidemic' of US deaths due to motor vehicle crashes has become widely accepted as inevitable (there are more than 42,000 per annum). 'In round numbers, this loss of life is the equivalent of the Titanic going down every two weeks, year after year'.

Recent AAA action is addressing the problem for the three most vulnerable groups of passenger car occupants: children, teens and seniors.

Driving Costs


Meanwhile, the AAA's annual Your Driving Costs study shows that the average cost of driving a new passenger car in 2004 is 56.2 cents per mile or $8,431 per year. AAA has reported on the average estimated cost of owning and operating a new car each year since 1950.

Due to a revised methodology, this year's estimated costs are not directly comparable to those reported in previous years. However, the table shows a steady rise throughout the last decade:

AAA's Annual Driving Cost Estimates
Year Annual cost Cost per mile
2004* $8,431 56.2 cents
2003 $7,754 51.7 cents
2002 $7,533 50.2 cents
2001 $7,654 51.0 cents
2000 $7,363 49.1 cents
1999 $7,050 47.0 cents
1998 $6,908 46.1 cents
1997 $6,723 44.8 cents
1996 $6,389 42.6 cents
1995 $6,185 41.2 cents
1994 $5,916 39.4 cents

*methodology revised by AAA


The largest components of vehicle cost, in descending order, are as follows (figures are estimates per year of ownership):

Depreciation $3,782
Full insurance coverage $1,603
Cost of fuel $975
Routine maintenance $915


AAA's cost figures are based on a composite national average of three domestically built 2004 cars - a subcompact Chevrolet Cavalier LS, a mid-size Ford Taurus SEL Deluxe and a full-size Mercury Grand Marquis LS.

The AAA's main Web address, www.aaa.com , directs users to separate sites for regionally based clubs.

All articles 2006-18 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.

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