Investing in roads lowers trauma cost

LEADING road safety experts say we must highlight the devastating impact and lifetime cost of serious road trauma, as the road toll surges and the number of people living with serious injuries increases.

A new international study, commissioned by British-based road safety group FIA Foundation, has reviewed Victorian road crash data to prove upfront investment in infrastructure is far cheaper than the cost of treatment.

The modelling used Victorian data from 40,000 crashes which caused 1349 deaths, 24,000 serious injuries and resulted in 50,000 insurance claims between 2006-10. 

Monash University Accident Research Centre associate professor Stuart Newstead called for a greater focus on the people who survived trauma and had to live with the consequences.

“It’s one of the greatest burdens on society, traumatic brain injury.  People have to live with (serious injury) and don't ever recover from it,” Professor Newstead said. 

“It costs the community and those around them a serious amount. They watch someone they know as a perfectly functioning individual reduced to someone with total dependency, going from being a good contributor to society to not being able to contribute.”

Analysed data shows the average lifetime cost of caring for someone with a severe brain injury costs up to $2.25 million, the lifetime costs of caring for a quadriplegic is $2.63 million.

Large scale improvements to boost road quality could save 40 lives and prevent 240 serious injuries over 20 years in Victoria, the report found.

This would save more than $50 million in insurance claims. The report shows wire rope barriers cost around $1 million per kilometre, rumble strips cost $100,000 per kilometre to install.

This would reduce insurance costs by as much as $51 million, according to the report. The TAC is already investing significantly in such infrastructure, the Midland Highway and the Western Freeway have already been earmarked for new flexible centre line barriers or wider centre line and rumble strips to better separate oncoming traffic along the notorious strip of roads.