The last time you were in a car accident (big or small) you were shocked when you got the repair bill. It's how much for a bumper and a little paint? A new airbag costs how much? How many hours of labor went into that repair? But traffic crashes cost Americans far more than just the repair bills.

According to a study by AAA, traffic accidents cost Americans over $164 billion per year. That's a cost of about $1,051 per person. The costs that go into this figure include property damage, time off work, medical bills, emergency services, legal fees, and traffic delays caused by accidents. So when you get your insurance bill and you wonder why it's so high, you can think back to these figures.

I guess this information may give us all an extra incentive to drive more carefully. How often do you see people making foolish moves in their cars because they're distracted, either by talking on a cell phone, eating their lunch, or reading a newspaper? Automobiles are dangerous objects, and although multi-tasking has become popular as our lives become busier, we should put safety first.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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