Traffic safety and economic fluctuation: long-term and short-term analyses and a literature survey

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Mats Wiklund
Lennart Simonsson

In studies of traffic safety is it important to have good knowledge of both internal and external factors. Examples of the former are driver behaviour and the roads’ safety standard, while examples of the latter are the demographic structure and the economic situation. This report includes a survey of methods used by previous researchers comprising which variables they used as indicators of the state of the market. It was concluded that unemployment was the most common economic variable, where an increase in unemployment indicates a decrease in the number of killed road users. The same result was found when a time series analysis was performed on Swedish data. It was also shown that part of the reduction in the number of fatalities in Sweden during a recession was explained by young drivers’ reducing their car use. There is, however, still a remaining effect of unemployment that cannot be explained by young drivers car use. One theory is that the state of the market affects the road users´ travel patterns. Data collected from fatal accident reports during the recession in December 2008-March 2009, were compared to the same period in 2005/2006, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 during which period the economy was stronger. The only significant difference was that the number of fatalities and number of fatal accidents were higher during periods of economic growth. No significant difference was found with respect to, among others, accident type, time of day, age or gender distribution.

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