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Crashes cost NSW economy $3 billion a year

Crashes on NSW roads are costing the state economy nearly $3 billion a year according to a report developed by NRMA Motoring & Services.

Cost of Crashes 2012, released today in conjunction with the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA), analysed the economic cost of crashes from 2006-10. The crashes tragically claimed 2,163 lives, caused 124,061 injuries and cost the NSW economy $13.8 billion over the five-year period.

The NRMA identified the financial burden on the economy of crashes by looking at the costs associated with loss of life, treatment of injuries and ongoing care of persons with disabilities, property costs and general costs.

NRMA Regional Director Graham Blight said the analysis by NRMA and VRA showed that the tragic loss of life and injuries on the state's roads also carried a massive financial cost to the NSW economy.

"Although we welcomed the increase in road funding last budget, decades of under-funding on NSW roads from both levels of government have left the state with a horrific road toll and a massive cost to the state economy," Mr Blight said.

"What is forgotten is that many of the almost 125,000 injuries that occur on our roads can impact the quality of one's life forever.

"Every time there is a crash on a NSW road the human cost and the grief it brings is immeasurable.

"What is measurable however is the economic cost - in the form of hospital and rehabilitation costs, legal and insurance costs, labour and loss of work hour costs and the cost to emergency services."

Mr Blight said it was unsurprising that the cost of crashes on the Pacific Highway amounted to almost three-quarters of a billion dollars while the Princes, Hume and Great Western highways rounded out the costliest roads during 2006-10.

"There is no silver-bullet solution to reducing crashes on these roads and while the Pacific Highway is in the process of being upgraded, cost-effective measures such as wire rope barriers should be considered on other dangerous roads," Mr Blight said.

"At $80 per metre installed, wire rope barriers could help prevent head-on crashes and at that price, could be installed on long stretches of road."

Cost of Crashes 2012 has been launched today to highlight the work of the VRA in rescuing car crash victims on regional highways across NSW. The NRMA provides financial support to the VRA, which tended to 804 crashes, providing 6,293 volunteer hours last financial year.

NSW VRA Commissioner Russell Ashdown said VRA volunteers were often first at the scene of a crash and spend hours cutting out trapped vehicle occupants.

"VRA volunteers know only too well the very human cost of crashes and what awaits us is often too horrible to comprehend," Mr Ashdown said.

"Safer roads reduce the frequency and severity of crashes and there are not only benefits to the community in saving lives and preventing injuries, but a very clear economic cost as well."

The NRMA will develop a series of recommendations from the Cost of Crashes 2012 and present them to the Australian and NSW Governments.

Mr Blight said the NRMA is focused on playing its part locally in the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

Download the Cost of Crashes 2012 (PDF 278KB/8 pages).