Economy counting the €1.2bn cost of collisions in single year
ROAD collisions cost the economy a staggering €1.2bn in 2008, new figures reveal.
And although deaths have fallen to their lowest level since records began in 1959, the havoc wreaked on the roads has resulted in a massive bill for the taxpayer and businesses.
The figures from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) show that each fatal collision costs €2.75m, while even a "minor" collision can incur a bill of more than €36,000.
The cost is made up of lost output to the economy because workers are not available, either through death or injury.
There are also medical costs, property damage, insurance administration, policing costs and the cost of social welfare payments.
But the RSA said that for every €1 invested in road safety, education and improvements to roads, there was an €8 return to the economy. The RSA's Road Collision Factbook also shows that while the number of fatal collisions is falling, there has been an increase in the number of incidents that left drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists with serious injuries.
Apart from the human suffering that arises from collisions, many of which are avoidable, the analysis by Goodbody Economic Consultants puts a monetary figure on the damage.
The research showed that in 2008:
- Gardai were notified of 28,464 motor vehicle traffic collisions.
- Some 279 people were killed in 254 fatal incidents; 9,758 were injured, of which 835 were seriously injured; and 21,728 collisions involved property or material damage only.
- The estimated cost of all road collisions reported to gardai in 2008 was €1.2bn. This was a reduction of 12.7pc on 2007.
- Some 63 people per million population died on the roads in 2008, a 50pc drop from the 124 per million rate in 1998 when the Government's first Road Safety Strategy was published.
"In addition to the price paid in terms of lives lost and human suffering, there is another cost which is shouldered by the State following collisions, the financial cost," RSA chief executive Noel Brett said.
"While it may seem insensitive to speak of money in the context of human tragedy, the fact does remain that road collisions cost the State €1.2bn in 2008. Every fatal crash alone costs almost €3m.
"But we know that for every €1 invested up front in road safety, on education, engineering and enforcement, there is an €8 return. This return on investment in road safety goes to our health care system, our social welfare system and to industry in general."
The National Roads Authority said that among the reasons for the drop in the number of fatal incidents was the improved quality of the road network.
Last year, the number of people killed fell to 239.
"One of the key components of the recent improvements has been the development of the national road network," spokesman Sean O'Neill said.
"Statistically, motorways are seven to 10 times safer than existing roads, assisting in the reduction of road deaths."
In 2008, most fatalities involved car occupants, at 160 or 57pc, followed by 49 pedestrians, 29 motorcyclists, 20 goods vehicle occupants, 13 cyclists and eight others.
A total of 20 children aged under 14 died.
One-in-three fatal collisions involved just one vehicle, and one in four happened between 9pm and 3am -- the time most associated with drink driving.
Some 28pc of fatal collisions occurred on urban roads, and Louth had the highest fatality rate on a county-by-county basis where 2.4 people died per 1,000 population. This compared with a national average of 1.6, and the lowest rate of 1.3 was recorded in three counties -- Dublin, Kildare and Carlow.