Governments will actually save lives and save money on future health costs by investing long-term in the prevention of road trauma with better roads, a World Bank report has found.
The “Investing to Save Lives: An impact investment case for preventing road trauma” report included cases studies from around the world, including Australia which demonstrated “the powerful financial case for frontloading investment in safer road infrastructure”.
The report says road trauma is growing as are the hidden costs to health care systems, insurers, victims and their families, and society.
“Governments, insurers and service providers all stand to benefit from savings in future health costs if spending is directed to prevention of road trauma,” the report found.
However, instead of the long-term view of investing funds in better road infrastructure, our government seems fixated on short-term speed zone reductions, such as on the Oxley Highway, and the subsequent increase in speeding fine revenue.
It’s not an economically sustainable situation, according to the World Bank.
Their case studies, developed by Social Finance UK and Impact Strategist, are drawn from road safety programs in Australia which detail astronomical health costs resulting from road trauma and Cambodia where poor families have limited access to expensive health services, insurance protection or welfare.
“Action to mobilise resources and scale successful approaches to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals need to start now,” the report says.
“Governments, international financial institutions, philanthropes and private investors all have a role to play in developing these promising new tools to achieve that.”
But with governments only elected for three-year terms, it’s difficult to get them to shift their myopic focus to a longer-term view.
They are also addicted to the huge revenues of speeding fines which they tend to use to balance their budgets, rather than fix roads.
Transport Accident Commission road safety manager Samantha Cockfield says the benefits of crash prevention extend far beyond saving lives.
“This report helps decision-makers understand the economic benefits that come from investing in road trauma prevention and that those benefits are concrete and measurable,” she says.