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Study: Congestion Pricing Improves Traffic Safety

According to new research, London's congestion pricing program has improved traffic safety both in the cordoned city center and in the free adjacent areas. Although traffic is moving faster, fatalities have been reduced.
March 15, 2015, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Research to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference later this month found that traffic accidents have fallen in the capital by an astonishing 40% since 2003," writes Jamie Doward of The Guardian. "The work is the first study of its kind and is likely to be examined closely by other cities that have flirted with the idea of imposing a similar charge."

According to the program's website, the daily charge is "£11.50 for driving a vehicle within the charging zone between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday," which equates to $16.96.

The crash reduction was matched by similar reductions in traffic fatalities and injuries and "extended beyond the congestion charge boundaries into adjacent areas, as fewer people drove through them to reach the centre." The improvement in traffic safety is not self-evident, as "(w)ith fewer cars on the roads in central London, motorists can go faster," notes Doward.

This could have increased the risk of accidents. However, the research team led by Professor Colin Green of the economics department at Lancaster University found that the charge has instead resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of accidents and fewer fatalities.

Bicycling Safety Impacts

There had been concerns that the charge would lead to more people cycling into central London, with a corresponding increase in accidents. The report’s authors found that this was the case initially. Accidents involving cyclists rose at a rate of roughly 1.5 per month until 2005. However, by the end of 2006 this had reversed, and cycling accidents and fatalities fell.

Doward ends the article by asking Professor Green's opinion what the research may say about the city of Manchester "which voted against introducing a charge" in December 2008.

 “Would Manchester have seen this effect? My suspicion is yes,” Green said.

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, March 7, 2015 in The Guardian
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