The total annual social cost of road crashes in New Zealand reduced by 14 percent between 2010 and 2011 to $3.14 billion in 2011, largely due to a 24 percent fall in the number of fatalities.
Ministry of Transport Chief Executive Martin Matthews welcomed the news but says the social cost is still too high.
“To give a sense of the size of the cost, $3.14 billion is almost the equivalent of a month’s worth of New Zealand’s exports.
“Road crashes have huge downstream effects on people and society. Over 90 percent of the total social cost is related to loss of life or permanent disability. Other costs include vehicle damage, medical costs, legal and court costs.”
The average social cost of a fatal road crash in June 2012 was $4.45 million, while the average cost of a serious crash was $467,300.
“These social costings are just one more way of reminding people of the impact road crashes are having on our society,” says Mr Matthews. “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
The social costings are published annually by the Ministry of Transport in Social Cost of Road Crashes and Injuries.
Also released with this update was the annual Motor Vehicle Crashes in New Zealand report for 2011. The report confirmed that speed and alcohol continue to be major contributors to New Zealand’s road toll and crash rate.
Mr Matthews says the report is a sobering reminder of the number of crashes on New Zealand roads.
“Even though our road toll is at its lowest level in 60 years, a person is killed every 31 hours on average on our roads.”
There were 284 fatalities in the 2011 calendar year. This is 6.4 people per 100,000 – the lowest rate in 60 years.
The number of people injured was 12,574. This is 285 people per 100,000 population – again, the lowest rate in 60 years.
Travelling too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor in 29 percent of fatal crashes.
Alcohol or a drugs was a contributing factor in 30 percent of fatal crashes.
The age group with the highest percentage of road deaths and injuries was 20-24 year-olds, followed by 15-19 year-olds.
“All these statistics confirm the need for our continued commitment to the Safer Journeys strategy,” says Mr Matthews.
“The government has increased the minimum driving age from 15 to 16, introduced a zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20, launched targeted education for young drivers and strengthened driver licence tests. It has also changed give way rules to reduce intersection crashes and progressed work to build safer roads.”
A mathematical and statistical analysis of the 2011 road toll decrease has also been made. The New Zealand road toll for 2011 decreased 24 percent – from 375 deaths in 2010, to 284 deaths in 2011.
The Ministry of Transport commissioned an analysis of the factors that might have caused the decrease from Otago University, which also drew on the expertise of Monash University, Infometrics and Martin Jenkins.
The research found many countries have experienced large drops in their road tolls without any clearly identified explanation.
The research drew on a large number of data sources available in New Zealand. The analysis concluded that of the drop in 91 fatalities between 2010 and 2011:
- 20 can be explained by a long-term downward trend
- 21 can be explained by three factors – an increase in the rate of change of petrol prices, an increase in real wages and a decrease in motorcycle registration
- 50 cannot yet be explained by trends and models, and could be random variation, but with the passage of time and further work, contributing factors may become more apparent.
In the 12 months to December 18, 2012, 304 people have died in road crashes – 21 more than the 2011 road toll. Provisional figures are available every day.
Further information on road toll trends is available on this website:
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