July 12 - What is the value of a life?

July 12

What is the value of a life?

by Vince Cocurullo

Whangarei District Council, Okara Ward

As you know every year we have a count of how many deaths, or accidents are on the road, and over the past few years our Northland road toll has been on an upward trend.

Presently the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) uses the value $4.73m as the value of each ‘statistical life’ per fatality.  This is calculated from what it costs when someone dies on the road, and includes everything from the cost to repair the road afterwards to the social value of someone not being able to work again.

Last time the total social cost was looked at, in the 2016 Social Cost of Road Crashes and Injuries 2016 update, the Ministry of Transport found the cost ran into the billions:

“The total social cost of motor vehicle injury crashes in 2015 is estimated at $3.79 billion, at June 2016 prices. Loss of life/ life quality due to permanent impairments accounted for approximately 91 per cent of the total social cost of injury crashes. Vehicle damage accounted for around five percent with other costs making up the remaining four percent. There are also an estimated 220,460 non-injury crashes, valued at $0.66 billion. The total social cost of all motor vehicle crashes is estimated at $4.45 billion and covers all injuries recorded by NZ Police, hospitals and ACC.”

Non-fatal crashes and non-reported crashes cost, as well, estimated to be $912,000 per reported serious crash and $99,000 per reported minor crash, after considering reporting rate adjustment.*

Northland’s state highways are some of the worst, both in condition and in number of deaths.  So what are the central government and NZTA doing about it?  It has now been well over a year since Labour got in, and yet Northland still waits.  Many are feeling like the forgotten cousins.

After the last lot of deaths on State Highway One, south of Whangarei, NZTA’s solution was to install marker posts down the centre of the road, to stop people from crossing the centre line, as it was deemed that the crossing the centre line was the cause of the accidents and deaths.  This cost would have been in the line around $10k (best guess allowing for traffic safety installations).

Is what the central Government or NZTA doing around our State Highways good enough?  Should they be planning for the future? Do we still need the four lane highway between Whangarei and Auckland?  Due to the changes in the Central Government leadership, our Northland State Highways appear to be left to dust, however should they?

In my view, NTZA has dropped the ball, and it’s only when we have central Government pushing our case will we get anything happening. I’m surprised that with Northlanders running the country as acting prime minister and deputy prime minister we’re still not getting any progress on this.


Have a read of the following resources to find out more:


*Source https://www.transport.govt.nz/resources/road-safety-resources/roadcrashs...