The drop in alcohol-related car crashes over the past few decades has benefited the U.S. economy, according to a new study in the journal Injury Prevention.
Researchers found alcohol-involved crash reductions since 1984-1986 increased economic output in 2010 by an estimated $20 billion, raised the U.S. gross domestic product by $10 billion, increased U.S. income by $6.5 billion, and created 215,000 jobs.
The reduction in alcohol-related crashes contributed to 5 percent of the $200 million compounded average annual growth in the gross domestic product from 1985 to 2013, the researchers reported.
"Alcohol-involved crashes drag down the U.S. economy," they wrote. "On average, each of the 25.5 billion miles Americans drove impaired in 2010 reduced economic output by $0.80. Those losses are preventable."
Installing breath-controlled ignitions or crash avoidance systems may help further reduce alcohol-related car crashes, lead researcher Ted Miller told Reuters.
Miller explained that reducing car crashes benefits the economy in part because people who avoid motor vehicle accidents are not forced to take time off from work, and can spend money on other services. In addition, employers do not have to pay benefits for disability, pay injured workers for time off, and hire additional workers to replace them.
"What's happening by reducing impaired driving, we're reducing the fringe benefit bill that employers have to pay," Miller said.