New report: Investing to prevent road trauma saves lives and pays financial dividends

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Five years of real crash and financial data from the State of Victoria builds a picture of where and how crashes happen, and their astronomical cost.
Five years of real crash and financial data from the State of Victoria builds a picture of where and how crashes happen, and their astronomical cost.
The report also builds a picture of where crash costs fall on the health and insurance sectors, and wider society.
The report also builds a picture of where crash costs fall on the health and insurance sectors, and wider society.
Modelling potential infrastructure safety investment (e.g. here in Queensland) demonstrates the financial return in avoided health costs.
Modelling potential infrastructure safety investment (e.g. here in Queensland) demonstrates the financial return in avoided health costs.
Researchers also looked at the benefits of a USAID co-funded motorcycle helmet intervention in Cambodia.
Researchers also looked at the benefits of a USAID co-funded motorcycle helmet intervention in Cambodia.
The Cambodia analysis shows how a development impact bond could be structured to deliver ‘payment by results’ for philanthropic or private investors, potentially attracting new sources of funding to road safety.
The Cambodia analysis shows how a development impact bond could be structured to deliver ‘payment by results’ for philanthropic or private investors, potentially attracting new sources of funding to road safety.

Governments, insurers and service providers all stand to benefit from savings in future health costs if spending is directed to prevention of road trauma.

New analysis commissioned by the FIA Foundation shows that investing early to prevent injury can deliver real financial dividends as well as saving lives. In addition to the direct savings to be made there are significant additional social and economic benefits of prevention. This paves the way forward for a fresh assessment of the benefits of stronger road safety measures and budgeting for road safety implementation and enforcement.

Case studies launched today at the World Bank in Washington DC, ‘Investing to Save Lives: An impact investment case for preventing road trauma’, make a compelling case for strategic investment in preventative road safety measures. The case studies, developed by Social Finance UK and Impact Strategist, are drawn from road safety programmes in Australia and Cambodia. They detail astronomical health costs resulting from road trauma in high income countries, and the hidden costs borne by families in low income countries with limited access to health services, insurance protection or welfare.

The analysis employs an impact investment approach: that is an approach designed to deliver better outcomes and financial return and measure both. As the world works towards meeting the road safety targets included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, this type of innovative approach has a financial pay-off, including for Governments and tax payers, in addition to the significant upside for people and communities if more injury and death can be prevented.

This innovative approach to unlocking capital and directing it to road safety measures has global potential. Many high-income countries face the challenge of maintaining a downward trend in road traffic deaths. The Australian case studies demonstrate the powerful financial case for frontloading investment in safer road infrastructure. In low and middle income countries, their incidence of road trauma is higher and growing and there are a range of hidden costs – to health care systems, to insurers, to victims and their families and to wider society – of road trauma and its impacts that create and amplify cycles of poverty.

Action to mobilise resources and scale successful approaches to achieve the SDG targets needs to start now. Governments, international financial institutions, philanthropies and private investors all have a role to play in developing these promising new tools to achieve that. The next step is to move from case studies to test cases.

Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, said: “This is about improving outcomes for people and communities and reducing the impost on government, business and donor agencies of the rising toll of road traffic death and serious injury. We encourage investors, donors and the international financial institutions to come together to realise the potential of these new investment models.”

Mirjam Sidik, CEO of Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, said “The catastrophic costs to households of road traffic injuries in countries like Cambodia is too often overlooked, but if we are to achieve the SDGs we must tackle road safety in low and middle income countries head on. We see great potential for social investment to bring greater focus on this important issue from a broader stakeholder group, and open up new funding opportunities for governments.”

Samantha Cockfield, Transport Accident Commission Road Safety Manager, said: "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."

Rob McInerney, CEO of iRAP, said: “Impact investing in road safety can unlock the win-win benefits of improving the star-rating performance of road infrastructure. The cost of road trauma is high and the evidence base for proven countermeasures is strong. The case studies in this ground-breaking report highlight the viability of self-financing and high return investment in safer roads that will save lives and lift the burden from health, social welfare, insurance and business sectors. A win-win for all that can be replicated around the world.“

Welcoming the report, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, said: “The scale of the global road traffic epidemic demands new thinking and innovative financing solutions. Harnessing the growing potential of the social impact investing market can deliver as yet untapped sources of funding for road safety and help to instil a new rigour in the development of road safety strategies and programmes. This report explores these opportunities and signposts directions for further research and action. I encourage institutional and philanthropic investors to join with us in taking this important work forward.”

The report is being launched on 22nd September 2016 during the iRAP Innovation Workshop hosted by the World Bank in Washington DC, with report co-author Jane Newman, International Director of Social Finance UK, presenting findings to representatives of development banks, philanthropies and road authorities. The report was also previewed this week in a plenary presentation by the FIA Foundation’s Saul Billingsley at the Safety 2016 Conference, organised by the World Health Organization and the Finnish Government in Tampere, Finland, which brings together more than 1,200 injury researchers and government officials. The new report is part of the FIA Foundation’s ‘Financing for Development’ series of policy and research papers and builds on the 2015 report Breaking the Deadlock: A Social Impact Investment Lens on Reducing Costs of Road Trauma and Unlocking Capital for Road Safety .

Read: Investing to Save Lives: An impact investment case for preventing road trauma