Official road crash statistics for Northern Ireland may dramatically understate the true scale of the carnage, it was revealed today.
The Audit Office reported that hospital admissions were nearly 40% higher than the equivalent figures compiled by the PSNI.
And, while accepting that there may be "valid reasons" for variations, the watchdog called for more research to be carried out by the police.
It stated that it had obtained road accident hospital admissions from the province's Department of Health for the period 1995-96 to 2004-05.
"These showed 27,400 hospital admissions compared with 16,552 deaths and serious injuries reported by PSNI, a variance of almost 40%," it said.
The Audit Office said the health service total may include re-admissions relating to the same casualty. But it underlined the scale of the difference and voiced "doubts about the completeness and accuracy of the reported figures in Northern Ireland".
The report said research in GB in the 1990s had also indicated that police casualty statistics "tended to substantially underestimate casualty levels". This was attributed to a failure to record all reported casualties and a tendency to under-estimate injury severity.
In 2005, there were 7.9 deaths per 100,000 of the population here, compared to just 5.5 in Great Britain.