Why Have Traffic Fatalities Declined in Industrialized Countries' Implications for Pedestrians and Vehicle Occupants
AbstractPrevious research suggests that the death rate due to traffic fatalities at first increases as countries develop and motorization increases, but eventually declines as incomes grow and fatalities per vehicle decrease (Kopits and Cropper, 2005). This paper examines whether the relationship between traffic fatalities and income is the same for different classes of road users and investigates the factors underlying the decline in fatalities per vehicle kilometer traveled (VKT) observed in high-income countries over recent decades. Formal models of traffic fatalities are developed for vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Reduced-form approximations to these models are estimated using panel data for 32 high-income countries over 1964-2002. The results suggest that the downward-sloping portion of the curve relating traffic fatalities per capita to per capita income is due primarily to improved pedestrian safety. Our more detailed models shed light on some factors influencing pedestrian fatalities per VKT but much of the reduction in pedestrian fatalities remains unexplained; however, increased motorization and a reduction in the proportion of young drivers in the population clearly played a role. Occupant fatalities, however, do not show a significant decline with income. What does explain declines in occupant fatalities per distance traveled are reductions in alcohol abuse and improved medical services, and a reduction in young drivers. The importance of demographic factors suggests that in countries where young persons (between 15 and 24 years of age) comprise an increasing share of the driving population, adopting policies to improve young driver education and reduce speeds will be crucial.
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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Other versions of this item:
- Elizabeth Kopits & Maureen Cropper, 2008. "Why Have Traffic Fatalities Declined in Industrialised Countries?: Implications for Pedestrians and Vehicle Occupants," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, London School of Economics and University of Bath, vol. 42(1), pages 129-154, January.
- Kopits, Elizabeth & Cropper, Maureen, 2005. "Why have traffic fatalities declined in industrialized countries ? Implications for pedestrians and vehicle occupants," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3678, The World Bank.
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