Air Pollution Blamed for Traffic Accidents

Air pollution could be to blame for hundreds of traffic accidents, according to researchers.

A study conducted by the London Schools of Economics presents evidence that air pollution is responsible for road traffic accidents. Well, MAY be responsible. The evidence is still disputable. Some in the media are sceptical.

In a study analysing 5 years’ worth of data illustrated that rising numbers of traffic collisions increased as levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) increased. Rising just one microgram per cubic metre, the number of collisions also rose by two per cent. A coincidence or chance?

Some would argue such an argument is simplistic. If you have a greater mix of traffic in urban areas, you tend to have more accidents. Surely levels of pollution will rise if the number of vehicles on the roads increases? One cannot expect pollution to remain static as the demand for car usage increases. However, LSE researchers explained that any increase in pollution accounts for an increase in traffic level.

They argue toxic air actually impairs driver fitness. A driver displaying discomfort or allergy type symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, sneezing or itching eyes could be distracting for motorists. This is a potential cause of road traffic accidents.
Yet surely this is hardly a headline? It is already widely known that air pollution negatively damages health.

Air pollution derives from several different toxins, such as ozone and carbon monoxide. This is common knowledge and often discussed at world-wide social forums and G8.

One LSE analyst divided the UK into a grid of more than 30 areas. Then they mapped out accidents to the level of air pollution between 2009 and 2014. Scientists found a connection between pollution and traffic accidents. According to them, it demonstrates that UK cities like London carry more pollution and accident risks.

There are more than 140,000  collisions in which someone is injured in Britain every year so preventing just two per cent of crashes could avert thousands of accidents.

The researchers suggest that just improving the air quality in some of these areas by as little as two per cent would save thousands of lives. Needless to say it’s a benefit to everyone if we reduce traffic congestion.

Despite all this there is a natural attitude of scepticism prevailing that says it’s difficult to prove someone sneezing at the wheel causes a road traffic accident indirectly caused by pollution? How about just turning on the air-conditioning?