According to the World Health Organization (WHO) sources, 1.3 million road traffic deaths occur yearly throughout the world.
The cost in terms of human trauma, both physical and emotional, is incalculable, but the economic impact that these crashes have on society as a whole is also considerable. The WHO estimated that the direct cost of road traffic accidents, globally, is something like US$ 518 billion a year.
Tragically, it appears that road traffic accidents are increasing in developing countries and even though they are on the decline in Europe, they are still far too high.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the USA, private insurers only cover 50% of the overall costs of car accidents. The other half is taken care of by the victims, any third parties involved, charities, health care providers, states and municipalities. But even those not involved in crashes contribute to the overall costs through insurance premiums, taxes and travel delay.
What are the primary human costs involved in road crashes?
According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) of Ireland—which quoted official sources from The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work—these are the primary factors involved when taking into account the human cost of a car accident:
•Workers and their family—the person involved in the accident as well as those in their immediate sphere; their partner, family and friends;
•Employers and co-workers;
•Government—which has the duty of guaranteeing emergency services and social security. In the case of serious injuries or related illnesses, it has to take care of injury compensation, including loss of life, and the disability benefits awarded after the investigation;
•Society—injuries, illnesses and various incapacities resulting from a road crash have a big impact on society, which loses the individual contribution of those involved.
What are the overall costs involved in road crashes?
The great burden of fatalities and injuries is unfortunately not the only one for society, which has to bear the other costs:
•Productivity costs—vehicle crashes may result in missed orders and loss of output;
•Healthcare costs—these vary if the vehicle led to a serious injury or not, but include emergency and medical treatment, the cost of the medicines and the time dedicated to the accident victims;
•Administrative costs—social security benefits arising from investigations (and the cost of the investigations themselves) are an additional and very significant cost for businesses and government;
•Insurance costs—compensation payments may result in higher premium costs.
Both human and overall costs have led to a series of corrective actions and requirements increasing risk management studies on driving, and implementing safety policies on the road and in work environments. This makes us hope the trend can invert and the global number of road crashes, diminish.