The hidden victims of our road toll

2018-09-03
Modern technologies and advances in trauma medicine mean more people survive than die and the cost of surviving can be devastating to the survivor and their family. Modern technologies and advances in trauma medicine mean more people survive than die and the cost of surviving can be devastating to the survivor and their family.

The hidden victims of our road toll

We all read about the terrible road tolls that affect our modern life.

Every day the same stark reality of yet another death on the roads tempts us to look away, forcing advertising agencies to use increasingly violent images to get our attention.

But today with modern technologies and advances in trauma medicine, more people now survive car accidents. The cost of surviving can be devastating to the survivor and their family in both personal and financial ways.

What happens when you or your family is forced to pay for someone’s else’s accident?

The road toll reality in Australia is, each year between 1,200 to 1,400 people will die on our roads – none of them would know they wouldn’t return home that day.

It's truly a tragic reality of modern life than we cannot afford to ignore.

Not Surviving a car accident

At the time of writing this article in August 2018, at least 230 people will have died already this year in motor vehicle accidents. In the previous month of July 2018, there were 97 road deaths alone.

Surviving a car accident

For those caught up in a motor vehicle accident, not everyone dies and this is the story of the survivors and the price they are forced to pay.

The story of those left behind

Today as you read this article, 33 people will have survived a car accident but are now seriously injured (some of whom will face a lifelong disability) because of a road accident.

The NSW Centre for Road Safety, records:

  • Between 2008 – 2017 there were 3,727 fatalities on NSW roads alone

What most people don’t know was behind this figure:

  • 119,902 Serious Injuries were sustained on our roads over the same period
  • Of these serious injuries, 32% were life threatening.

The hidden toll behind Australia’s road toll statistics.

The people behind the survival headlines are drivers and passengers who survived the most horrific crashes and often left with life altering injuries or disabilities.

Their families find themselves now supporting someone with a permanent disability or serious injury often requiring round the clock help.

  • Today 33 people will be seriously injured, some of who will require a lifetime of treatment.
  • Tomorrow, another 33 people will be seriously injured, some of who will require a lifetime of treatment.
  • And so it will continue each day for the foreseeable future.

Family costs

For many, the biggest cost will be borne by their families - this is the hidden cost behind the statistics.

Nick Rushworth executive officer, of Brain Injury Australia, says:

''Better designed vehicles and roads and better-quality trauma care mean people are surviving with much more severe injuries and disabilities than 15 to 20 years ago. And they need a much greater level of disability services and support."

Monetary costs

The State Insurance Authority reports in 2017 the government spent $1.38 billion on just 3,000 severely injured people in car accidents, averaging $460,000 per person.

Increasing long term cost of survival

While the survivors are left with damage from these injuries for the rest of their lives, the biggest cost are the opportunity costs to their family.

'These patients are likely to require care in the intensive care unit ...multiple operations, the most costly are the brain and spine injuries. ... The biggest cost is the opportunity cost to their family. After a serious car accident you can't walk, may have reduced function, families are impacted and they have to take time off from work to care for the injured'.Dr Jeremy Hsu, Head of Trauma Westmead Hospital 2018

Case Study

Just before Christmas in December 2007, a blended family from Western Sydney found they’d become caught up in a tragic loss of life and injury when their 19 year old son, Tristan K crashed his runaway trail bike into a semi-trailer after a mechanical malfunction.

Tristan spent 19 months in a hospital recovering from devastating injuries to his body and brain that left him with impaired memory, speech, memory and balance, and a non functional non-functional

The accident cost everyone connected with it.

  1. His friend, Dwayne who was also on the bike, lost his life in the accident.
  2. Tristan's father, Ashley, overcome by the stress suffered a heart attack soon after, losing his job as an interstate truck driver.
  3. Without an income, the family dropped into poverty.
  4. One of Tristan's brothers ‘went off the rails’ and got into trouble with the law.
  5. The family moved house twice to be closer to Tristan during his regular stays in hospital.
  6. The semi-trailer driver, who witnessed the two young men drive under his truck suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and could not work for a year after the accident.
  7. His mother acknowledges she often needs to 'hibernate' in her room as she tried to manage the strains on the family unit.
  8. His sister who owned the faulty trail bike continues to struggle with guilt and feelings of responsibility.

Tristan's girlfriend explains,

'Life is different now from when he was outgoing and sporty’. He’ll yell at us and then he’ll forget why—but he doesn't understand why we don't forget.'

Key Message

Serious Injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident affects more than just the individual.

It affects their immediate families and everyone else who gets caught up in the accident.

So the question remains,

What happens when you or your family is forced to pay for someone’s else’s accident?

What can you do?

We can all protect ourselves from many of the major statistical risks of modern life.

Having your own Medical Trauma Insurance in place means if you find yourself seriously injured or sick, it can provide you recovery money - to have the financial ability to do whatever you need to do to put things right for you and your family.

Don't risk what you cannot afford to lose.

Contact us today to see if Medical Trauma Insurance could be a helpful part of your family backup plan, just in case.
Drew Browne

Drew specialises in helping people protect and provide for what matters most in their lives. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His company Sapience Financial and Investment Services is committed to using business solutions for good in the community, is a member of the international B1G1 Business for Good Giving Community and in 2015 certified as a B Corp. In 2017 Drew was recognised in the inaugural Australian Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow national awards. Drew writes for successful Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs at Smallville, his blogs can be read on Amazon.com and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

drew browne pic

Drew Browne

Sapience Founder & Director.
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