Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Transport Economics and Policy

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Transport Economics and Policy

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Chris Nash

Transport economics and policy analysis is a field which has seen major advances in methodology in recent decades, covering issues such as estimating cost functions, modelling of demand, dealing with externalities, examining industry ownership and structure, pricing and investment decisions and measuring economic impacts. This Handbook contains reviews of all these methods, with an emphasis on practical applications, commissioned from an international cast of experts in the field.

Chapter 8: Accidents

Gunnar Lindberg

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, research methods in the environment, transport, research methods, research methods in economics, research methods in the environment, urban and regional studies, research methods in urban and regional studies, transport


Road traffic accidents are estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death globally and approximately 1.24 million people die every year on the world’s roads. In addition, another 20 to 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries annually as a result of road traffic crashes (WHO, 2013). This daily toll of life is a human tragedy and an invaluable loss for family affected and for society at large. Even if the loss of life is invaluable it exits a value on the resources we are prepared to give up to reduce the risk of this dreadful outcome; resources that we both as individuals and as a society are prepared to spend on traffic safety activities. This monetary value is what we discuss in this chapter. After a short introduction into the history of the economic value of accidents (section 8.2) and issues on how to measure the risk of an accident (section 8.3) we introduce the three main components in valuation of accidents; direct economic cost, indirect cost and the so-called risk valuation or value of statistical life (VSL) in section 8.4. The major component is VSL and we therefore give a theoretical introduction into the standard model for VSL and briefly explore issues around age dependency, altruism and non-fatal outcomes (section 8.5). In section 8.6 we present the prevailing methods to empirically estimate VSL but we also examine some of the shortcomings in the current practice.

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