The cost of motor vehicle collisions in Australia

Road crashes generally result in property damage, injuries or death and each result has an associated cost which impacts onto the community.

The Federal Bureau of Transport Economics monitors and makes decisions about crash prevention and risk minimisation expenditure. In its Report 102 ‘Road Crash Costs in Australia’ identifies the financial burden which motor vehicle collisions place on the community as a whole and on particular groups within the community. For instance, the associated cost to the public medical system, employers, emergency services, and rehabilitation and compensation payouts can all be determined.

The costs imposed by road crashes, and the social benefits of avoiding crashes, are explicitly and implicitly recognised by the actions of government, industry, community groups and individuals.

Governments at all levels promote road safety and this message is enforced through the police services and state transport departments. Motor vehicle manufacturers invest in developing safety equipment and structurally testing their vehicles, while motorists voluntarily purchase safety equipment and may make behavioral choices to reduce risk. All these actions contribute to the reduction of the risk of death and injury through road crashes and so too will the IVIC Structural Tolerance Report.

The total cost of road crashes in Australia in 1996 has been conservatively estimated at approximately $15 billion (in 1996 dollar values).

The composition of the overall cost is set out below.

Human Cost $ Million
Medical / Ambulance / Rehabilitation 361
Long Term Care 1,990
Labour in the workplace 1,625
Labour in the household 1,493
Quality of Lifes 1,769
Legal 815
Correctional Services 17
Workplace Disruption 313
Funeral 3
Coroner 1
Total 8,385

Other general costs are:

Vehicle Costs (Repairs) 3,885
Unavailability of vehicle 182
Towing 43
Time Delays 1,445
Insurance Administration 926
Non Vehicle Property damage 30
Fire Emergency Services 10
Overall Total 14,980
Note: All figures are in 1996 dollars and rounded to the nearest million dollars.
Ref Source: Bureau of Transport Economics.

There is no doubt motor vehicle collisions are an expensive emotional and financial cost to society and as mentioned earlier in this document, results from approximately five hundred previous inspections reveal nine (9) in ten (10) post collision repaired vehicles have compromised structural integrity.

Should any one of these failed vehicles, or any other vehicle IVIC is yet to inspect and consequently fail be involved in another collision without having remedial repairs conducted; it is highly probable the structural integrity of these vehicles has been compromised by the previous repairs. Previously repaired or heated structural components have been proved to fail and crumble more significantly offering less protection to vehicle occupants.

The lives and limbs of motorists and their passengers must be better protected before injuries occur and therefore a more proactive intervention rather than a reactive solution is drastically required.

The IVIC system of inspection is certainly a proactive initiative toward preventing injuries and fatalities before they happen. The IVIC ‘Structural Tolerance Report’ will go a long way toward further reducing the expensive and associated costs of motor vehicle collisions to the community