Unless you have been living under a rock, you are doubtlessly familiar with the traffic issues facing Baton Rouge, and the infrastructure issues facing our state in general. Last week, the ongoing battle for funding a new Mississippi River Bridge raged on the state legislature. The point of this blog is not to argue for or against one infrastructure project, however. It is merely to point out how decisions to adequately fund (or in Louisiana’s case, NOT fund) infrastructure, enforce laws against texting, drinking, driving without insurance, etc…affect the pocket books of drivers in Louisiana.
Cost of infrastructure vs. increased insurance cost
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the impact of inadequate infrastructure down to the family level – costing $3,300 per family per year. At the macro level, the nation’s economy could see the loss of $10 trillion in GDP and a decline of more than $23 trillion in business productivity cumulatively over the next two decades if current investment trends continue.
In our state, the cost may be even higher. Think about how many hours you spend in traffic, how many wrecks occur do to hazards, etc…All of a sudden, we find ourselves asking not just how can we afford new roads and bridges, but how can we not?
Cost of enforcement vs. increased accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that distracted driving costs the United States $175 billion a year, and that $43 billion of that amount comes from costs of crashes caused by cell phone use alone.
According to drunk-driving.com, Alcohol is a factor in 32% of Louisiana's crash costs. Alcohol-related crashes in Louisiana cost the public an estimated $2.9 billion in 2000, including $1.2 billion in monetary costs and almost $1.7 billion in quality of life losses.Alcohol-related crashes accounted for an estimated 18% of Louisiana's auto insurance payments. Reducing alcohol-related crashes by 10% would save $60 million in claims payments and loss adjustment expenses.
Finally, a scary trend of unlicensed street racing has occurred in Baton Rouge and other US cities. Tragically, a mother was killed this weekend by an unlicensed street racer. Actions should have consequences. We deserve better from our fellow drivers.
Cost of uninsured drivers to the insured
This leads me to my final talking point: uninsured drivers. Louisiana has actually improved on this statistic, now resting firmly in the middle of the pack. However, with almost 12% of drivers on the road without insurance, it’s still way too many. Another huge factor is the number of underinsured drivers. This statistic is hard to quantify, but Louisiana has the lowest required liability limits in the nation. We only require $15,000 of coverage for bodily injury and property. I don’t know if you have gone to a hospital or a car dealership lately, but fifteen grand won’t get you very far! Furthermore, it costs extra to protect oneself and one’s family from people who only do the bare minimum. If you don’t know if you have enough protection for yourself (or for others, especially if you have a teen driver, we should talk. Let’s be part of the solution, not a bigger part of the problem.