Economic uncertainty causes more road traffic accidents

car accident

The current economic climate has increased people’s feelings of stress and anxiety which has led to a short-term spike in vehicle collisions, new research from King’s Business School reveals.

Senior lecturer in health economics, Dr Sotiris Vandoros, and colleagues, found that daily increases in economic uncertainty distracts drivers and disrupts sleep cycles, causing an increased risk of a collision.
While there is a general downward trend in car crashes in Britain, daily increases in economic uncertainty lead to short-term deviations from this trend, which is demonstrated by spikes in crashes.

“Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for 15 to 29-year-olds globally, and there are 1.25 million road traffic fatalities every year. With more turbulent economic and political times likely to lie ahead, developing preventive traffic control measures which can be escalated during periods of economic uncertainty is essential and could save many lives.” says Dr Vandoros.

The study used a decade of data from the economic policy uncertainty index, derived from an analysis of daily UK newspapers, and found a link to increased number of motor vehicle collisions in Great Britain from 2005 to 2015.

Such uncertainty affected people’s perceptions on what lies ahead in terms of their finances, thus making them stressed or distracting them – or even disrupting their sleep. The results imply that a (not unusual) five-fold increase of the very volatile uncertainty index leads to over 30 additional accidents per week.

The accidents data was obtained from the Department for Transport and the paper was recently published in Preventative Medicine.

Government data on driving can reveal some intriguing insights, such as these statistics from Absolute Reg on UK Driving Test results. Particularly the difference in pass rates based on location and gender.