Social cost of fatal and injury crashes in NZ rises to $4.8b

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The social costs comprise a range of factors including; loss of life or quality of life, loss of earnings potential due to death, permanent injury or temporary disability, emergency, hospital and rehabilitation costs, legal and court costs and vehicle damage. Photo: Gregor Richardson

The estimated social cost of motor vehicle fatal and injury crashes in 2017 was $4.8 billion - an increase of $0.6 billion on the previous year.

And the loss of each person killed on our roads costs the community a whopping $4.4 million.

The Ministry of Transport's annual social cost of road crashes report was released today and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said it outlined the "enormous" impact death and serious injury have on New Zealand and New Zealanders.

"We know more than a thousand people lost their lives on New Zealand roads between 2015 and 2017," Genter said.

"On average, around 30 people in New Zealand are killed in car crashes every month, and 10 times that number suffer serious and often life-altering injury.

"This report identifies the 378 fatalities of 2017 as having a social cost of $4.4 million each.

"A serious injury was $458,400 each, while each minor injury was $24,700."

The social costs comprise a range of factors including; loss of life or quality of life, loss of earnings potential due to death, permanent injury or temporary disability, emergency, hospital and rehabilitation costs, legal and court costs and vehicle damage.

However, it's impossible to fully account for the personal price families and communities face with lives lost, or changed forever.

"We know it's going to take a sustained effort to substantially reduce the number of road deaths and injuries,' said Genter.

"That's why this Government has invested a record $1.4 billion over three years to upgrade some of our most dangerous roads."

She said that by 2021 the NZ Transport Agency would upgrade around 870km of high volume, high-risk state highways.

Work would include more median and side barriers, rumble strips, and shoulder widening.

"Drivers can expect to see quick improvements made this year with low cost upgrades like rumble strips and corner barriers being rolled out across a further 670km of state highways," Genter said.

"Mistakes happen on our roads, but making our roads safer and more forgiving of driver error we can ensure these mistakes don't turn into tragedies.

"We're also preparing for the release of a new road safety strategy which outlines the meaningful steps New Zealand has to take to reduce deaths and serious injuries over the coming decade.

"Delivering road safety outcomes that reduce or eliminate the number of lives lost or seriously injured is my primary goal in transport.

"This report sends another very significant message about why that's so important."

The latest report is available on the Ministry of Transport's website.

Total social cost of road injury crashes in 2017

The total social cost of motor vehicle injury crashes in 2017 is estimated at $4.8 billion, at June 2018 prices.

Loss of life/life quality due to permanent impairments accounted for approximately 91 per cent of the total social cost of injury crashes.

Vehicle damage accounted for around 5 per cent, with other costs making up the remaining 4 per cent.

There are also an estimated 251,000 non-injury crashes, valued at $0.8 billion.

The total social cost of all motor vehicle crashes in 2017 is estimated at $5.6 billion and covers all injuries recorded by NZ Police, hospitals and ACC.

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