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CDC: Vehicle crash deaths cost billions

ATLANTA, May 11 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say motor vehicle crash deaths cost the country $41 billion a year in medical and work-loss costs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a report Wednesday that says half of this cost was in just 10 states -- California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee -- based on 2005 data.

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"Deaths from motor vehicle crashes are preventable," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, says in a statement. "Seat belts, graduated driver's license programs, child safety seats and helmet use save lives and reduce healthcare costs."

To prevent crash-related deaths, the CDC's Injury Center recommends states consider:

-- Primary seat belt laws, which allow motorists to be stopped and cited for not wearing seat belts.

-- Strong states policies requiring children to be placed in age- and size-appropriate child safety and booster seats while riding in vehicles.

-- Graduated driver licensing systems, proven to reduce teen crashes by up to 40 percent among 16-year-olds.

-- Universal laws requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Helmets can reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by more than one-third and reduce the risk of brain injury by 69 percent.

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