Five-year crash toll $490million

OVER five years, 153 fatal crashes on the Northern Rivers have cost Australia at least $490 million.

The emotional toll wrought on families and communities is impossible to calculate.

NSW Government statistics have offered a glimpse into the circumstances behind and consequences of vehicle crashes in the region.

From early 2008 to late 2012, 153 people lost their lives on Northern Rivers roads and another 5436 were injured.

The Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics estimated in 2006 a single fatal crash costs $2.67 million.

Taking inflation into account, that figure rises to $3.21 million per crash.

Highway patrol cluster supervisor Sergeant Chad George, who covers the Richmond and Tweed/Byron police commands, found it confronting to see the big picture.

"It brings home how many family units that aren't all together anymore," Sgt George said.

"Our main objective is to make sure everyone gets home safe to their families."

Speed was a factor in 31% of all crashes, and fatigue and alcohol were a factor in 11% and 9% of crashes, respectively.

Predictably, Sgt George was not surprised.

"Speed is an issue, not only here, but across the state ... which is why it's of a high priority to us," he said.

"Fatigue and alcohol are two of the biggest killers on our road. They're a disaster waiting to happen."

Cars were involved in 78% of all crashes, and light truck and heavy vehicles accounted for 21%, and motorcycles 14%.

Over the five years, 52 people were killed in Tweed and Byron, 29 in the Richmond Valley, 20 in Lismore and nine in Kyogle.

Clarence Valley, also included in the Northern Rivers statistics, had 43 fatal crashes.

From 2008 to 2012, Tweed had 1366 people injured in crashes, Clarence recorded 1020, Lismore 928 and Byron 723.

Ballina recorded 683 people injured, Richmond Valley 403 and Kyogle 313.

Sgt George said police were pumping resources into the Northern Rivers in an attempt to reduce the number of crashes.

"The North Coast does have a bad record with fatal and bad injury crashes," he said.

"This is why we're putting so much time and money into combating it.

"Over the last 12 months we've drawn on a lot of

additional resources from outside the command to supplement what we've got."

Sgt George said he hoped to see a drop in crashes in the next statistics, due out in late 2017.


Breakdown - Calculating the cost of road fatalities:

Workplace and household losses: 78.27%

Non-pecuniary costs: 18.95%

Legal costs: 0.95%

Workplace disruption and replacement: 0.44%

Correctional services: 0.39%

Insurance administration: 0.33%

Premature funeral: 0.18%

Fire and emergency response: 0.12%

Ambulance: 0.09%

Hospital and medical: 0.08%

Coronial costs: 0.08%

Police: 0.07%

Total: 99.95 (0.5% short due to rounding of figures)

SOURCE: NSW Government

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