HSE claims official road accident figures are inaccurate
The number of people injured in road traffic accidents is three-and-a-half times higher than official figures, a new study reveals.
The study, from the Health Service Executive (HSE), found the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and gardai underestimated the number of people injured in crashes when compared with the numbers recorded by hospitals.
Researcher Dr Declan Bedford, a public health specialist in the north-east, examined the numbers of people treated for injury in hospital between 2005 and 2008 to find the true figure.
He found that 14,861 people were treated as in-patients in hospital with road traffic injuries over the five years.
The figures for injuries in other countries are also underestimated, he added.
He found two-thirds of the injured were male, and that July and August were the two most common months for hospital admissions.
"Many people think the roads are more dangerous in the winter, but serious injury crashes are most common in the summer months. All drivers, especially male drivers, have to accept their responsibilities and drive safely all year round," he added.
He pointed out that although the ratio of hospitalised road users to fatally injured road users in Ireland increased from 4.6 in 2005 to 7.0 in 2009 -- this compares favourably among OECD member countries.
"In terms of the financial implications of serious injuries, the study estimates that the cost to the acute hospital service is at least €20m a year, and the cost to the Irish economy is much greater at approximately €1bn a year," Dr Bedford said.
"Data has shown that despite the major and welcomed drop in road deaths, we still have a significant problem with the number of people seriously injured in road crashes. There will have to be a continued implementation of evidence- based strategies to make crashes less likely."
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said yesterday Ireland has reduced its death rate on the roads by 49pc in last decade and this information from hospital is giving more insight into minor injuries.
Data would be more comprehensive if a national trauma register was set up , he added. The only reliable source his organisation has is gardai data.