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Study: $41 billion yearly losses due to crash-related deaths

BOSTON (Reuters) - Motor vehicle crash-related deaths, the leading killer of children, teens and young adults, cost an estimated $41 billion in medical and work loss expenses in a year, a study showed on Wednesday.

The study showed just 10 states bear nearly half of all the nation's crash-related death costs -- with totals in California, Texas and Florida each topping $3 billion in a year.

The other seven states with the highest costs are Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee, according to the analysis of crash statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 30,000 people are killed each year in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, according to CDC data.

Such crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 5 to 34, according to the CDC.

"By showing these costs, we can really highlight that these are younger people being killed and it results in a high loss of productivity to society," said Gwen Bergen, a behavioral scientist with CDC's Injury Center.

The study provides recommendations state by state for preventing crash-related deaths, such as tougher seat belt laws, graduated driver's license programs and mandatory child safety car seats for varying sizes and ages.

Also the CDC recommends a curfew for teen drivers and a limit to how many underage passengers can ride with a young driver.

Most states have some laws in place, but Bergen said no state is implementing all measures possible.

The health organization would also like to see more primary seat belt laws, which allow police to stop and ticket people for not buckling up. Under secondary laws, drivers must be pulled over for another violation.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 31 states have primary laws and 18 states have secondary laws.

New Hampshire does not have a primary or secondary seat belt law for adults.

The CDC findings are based on 2005 data, the most recent year it said comprehensive statistics on costs were available.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)