15 ways to ruin your financial future: Drive stupidly

I live in Detroit, where taking public transportation isn't an option. I'd be a lot richer if it were. Instead, I spend a lot of money on cars and insurance, compensating for other people's poor driving habits.

Driving stupid is expensive.

The National Safety Council estimated in 2006 that the average cost per auto crash where there were no disabling injuries was $8,200. If someone was hurt badly in the crash, but not killed, the average cost was $55,000. If someone died because of the wreck, the costs was more than $1.2 million.

A 1995 study by the Federal Highway Administration showed that driver error, including intoxication, caused 94 percent of all crashes. What causes driver error? The NSC offers this list:

• Poor eyesight. If you can't see, you shouldn't drive
• Too old. The older you get, the slower your reaction times.
• Too young. Inexperience leads to bad decisions.
• Fatigue. It's hard to drive when you're asleep at the wheel.
• Distraction. Talking on the phone is a big one; so is listening to loud music.
• Intoxication. Alcohol, drugs, even prescription medicine.

Nothing's more stupid -- or expensive -- than a drunk-driving conviction. A charge of driving while intoxicated can cost from $10,000 on the low end to well over $50,000 when it's all said and done; much more if you kill or maim another driver or passenger.

Stay healthy, stay wealthy. Be a smart driver.

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