6 Apr 2017

Stats show road crashes cost NZ $3.79bn in 2015

8:47 pm on 6 April 2017

Traffic crashes cost the country $3.79 billion in 2015, just-published material has shown.

Road crashes imposed intangible, financial and economic costs to society, said the report.

Road crashes imposed intangible, financial and economic costs to society, said the report. Photo: 123RF

The figures are produced annually by the Ministry of Transport and usually take over a year to calculate.

They show the 2015 cost was up on the 2014 figure, because increasing numbers of crashes and road fatalities that year.

Long-term figures showed this was, however, a statistical spike since the cost of road accidents has fallen steadily from $5bn in 1997 to $3.79bn in 2015, after adjusting for inflation.

The report said road crashes imposed intangible financial and economic costs to society.

They included reduced quality of life, reduced productivity, medical, legal and other costs.

The report also included an assessment of the cost of a life lost in a car crash. This so-called value of statistical life, or VOSL, was based on a Value of Safety survey originally done in 1991 and has been put at $4.14 million per fatality.

The VOSL asked respondents how much they would be willing to pay to avoid a premature death, which produced a figure known as the willingness-to-pay value of a statistical life.

The figure was originally set at $2m in 1991, but was adjusted by a figure based on wage inflation.

For non-fatal injuries, the average cost was estimated at $439,100 per serious injury and $23,400 per minor injury, but these figures were upgraded to $776,000 per serious injury and $77,000 per minor injury to account for crashes which were not reported to the police.

That meant loss of life or quality of life accounted for about 91 percent of the total social cost of injury crashes.

Vehicle damage accounted for around 5 percent with other costs making up the remaining 4 percent. There are also an estimated 220,460 non-injury crashes, valued at $660m.

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