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Traffic congestion, transportation policies, and the performance of first responders

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  • Brent, Daniel
  • Beland, Louis-Philippe

Abstract

Traffic congestion is a growing problem in urbanizing economies that results in lost time, health problems from pollution, and contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions. We examine a new external cost of traffic by estimating the relationship between traffic congestion and emergency response times. Matching traffic data at a fine spatial and temporal scale to incident report data from fire departments in California allows us to assign traffic immediately preceding an emergency. Our results show that traffic slows down fire trucks arriving at the scene of an emergency and increases the average monetary damages from fires. The effects are highly nonlinear; increases in response time are primarily due to traffic in the right tail of the traffic distribution. We document an additional externality of traffic congestion and highlight the negative effect of traffic on a critical public good.

Suggested Citation

  • Brent, Daniel & Beland, Louis-Philippe, 2020. "Traffic congestion, transportation policies, and the performance of first responders," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 103(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:103:y:2020:i:c:s0095069620300620
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2020.102339
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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Tianshu & Song, Shunfeng & Yang, Yanmin, 2022. "Driving restrictions, traffic speeds and carbon emissions: Evidence from high-frequency data," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    2. Stephen R. Barnes & Louis‐Philippe Beland & Jason Huh & Dongwoo Kim, 2022. "COVID‐19 lockdown and traffic accidents: Lessons from the pandemic," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(2), pages 349-368, April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Traffic; Public goods; Externalities; Emergency response times;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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