Various approaches to establishing research priorities are reviewed and the desirability of a life based rather than an economic based metric is discussed. The concept of using impairment for this purpose is explored. The development of a data base covering the impairment resulting from motor vehicle crashes is described, based on the incidence and demographic data in the 1982-1004 National Accident Sampling System (NASS), standard life tables, and factors for whole-body impairment. A similar analysis was made of the years of life lost as the result of motor vehicle crashes using 1935 Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) data and standard life tables. Examples are presented on how these data could be used to establish priorities.