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The economics of road safety


  • Boyer, Marcel
  • Dionne, Georges


In this paper we present a theoretical framework for the analysis of road safety in different contexts characterized by the following factors: the presence or the absence of externalities, moral hazard, taxes (subsidies), government regulation, liability insurance and multi-period insurance contracts. The main results are the following: (i) A Pareto optimal solution for insurance coverage and road safety is characterized by full insurance and a level of prevention which takes into account externalities between drivers. (ii) Without asymmetrical information, such a Pareto optimal solution can be obtained with or without a fault system for negligence if an adequate rating system is set up in order to induce individuals to take into account externalities. Taxes and subsidies can also be efficient. Government regulation of road safety is another way to reduce inefficies due to externalities. However, these interventions will not generally lead to a socially optimal level of road safety under asymmetrical information. (iii) Under asymmetrical information, two mechanisms are examined in some detail: fault for negligence and multi-period insurance contracts. It is shown that one-period liability insurance contracts (assuming that the legal system can observe the individual's level of road safety activities when accidents occur) or multi-period no-fault insurance contracts (assuming an infinite horizon with no discounting) based in part on the individual's past driving record can give individually rational self-protection activity levels which are socially efficient in presence of both moral hazard and externalities. Under less stringent assumptions, these contracts can give second-best solutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Boyer, Marcel & Dionne, Georges, 1987. "The economics of road safety," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 413-431, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transb:v:21:y:1987:i:5:p:413-431

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. S. Selvanathan, 1987. "Do OECD Consumers Obey Demand Theory?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 87-04, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dionne, Georges & Michaud, Pierre-Carl & Pinquet, Jean, 2013. "A review of recent theoretical and empirical analyses of asymmetric information in road safety and automobile insurance," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 85-97.
    2. Dementyeva, Maria & Koster, Paul R. & Verhoef, Erik T., 2015. "Regulation of road accident externalities when insurance companies have market power," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-8.
    3. Pål Andreas Pedersen, 2001. "A Game Theoretical Approach to Road Safety," Studies in Economics 0105, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    4. Georges Dionne & Claude Fluet & Denise Desjardins, 2007. "Predicted risk perception and risk-taking behavior: The case of impaired driving," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 237-264, December.
    5. Hoy, Michael & Polborn, Mattias K., 2015. "The value of technology improvements in games with externalities: A fresh look at offsetting behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 12-20.
    6. Georges Dionne & Claude Fluet & Denise Desjardins, 2006. "Perception of the Risks Associated with Impaired Driving and Effects on Driving Behavior," Cahiers de recherche 0608, CIRPEE.
    7. Dionne, Georges & Laberge-Nadeau, Claire & Maag, Urs & Desjardins, Denise & Messier, Stéphane, 1999. "Analyse de l’effet des règles d’obtention d’un permis de conduire au Québec (1991) sur la sécurité routière," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 75(1), pages 269-332, mars-juin.
    8. Luis Rizzi, 2008. "Integrating Travel Delays, Road Safety, Care, Vehicle Insurance and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Road Capacity Expansion in a Unified Framework," Networks and Spatial Economics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 125-140, September.
    9. Sverre Grepperud, 2015. "Optimal safety standards when accident prevention depends upon both firm and worker effort," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 505-521, June.
    10. Richard Arnott, 2001. "The Economic Theory of Urban Traffic Congestion: A Microscopic Research Agenda," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 502, Boston College Department of Economics.
    11. Bourgeon, Jean-Marc & Picard, Pierre, 2007. "Point-record driving licence and road safety: An economic approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 235-258, February.
    12. Michael Grimm & Carole Treibich, 2013. "Determinants Of Road Traffic Crash Fatalities Across Indian States," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(8), pages 915-930, August.
    13. Gaudry, Marc & de Lapparent, Matthieu, 2013. "Part 2. Beyond single-outcome models: Decompositions of aggregate and disaggregate road safety risk," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 20-37.
    14. Georges Dionne & Jean Pinquet & Mathieu Maurice & Charles Vanasse, 2011. "Incentive Mechanisms for Safe Driving: A Comparative Analysis with Dynamic Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 218-227, February.
    15. Jean Pinquet & Georges Dionne & Charles Vanasse & Mathieu Maurice, 2007. "Point-record incentives, asymmetric information and dynamic data," Working Papers hal-00243056, HAL.
    16. Richard Arnott, 1994. "Alleviating Traffic Congestion: Alternatives to Road Pricing," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 282., Boston College Department of Economics.
    17. Atwood, Joseph A. & Robinson-Cox, Jim & Shaik, Saleem, 2004. "A Statistical Examination Of Yield Switching Fraud In The Federal Crop Insurance Program," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 19983, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    18. Small, Kenneth A., 1997. "Economics and urban transportation policy in the United States," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 671-691, November.

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