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Does Air Pollution Cause More Car Accidents?

New Research Shows Air Pollution Could Cause Crashes

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Hundreds of car accidents every year could be caused by air pollution, according to the London School of Economics.

A study, which looked at five years of data, showed that when nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels rise by one microgram per cubic metre, the number of traffic collisions rises by two per cent, even with the LSE adjusting their findings for extra traffic. They believe that toxic air can impact driver fitness, whilst an itchy nose and watery eyes could distract motorists.

The research was conducted by Lutz Sager, a postdoctoral candidate, who divided the UK into 32 areas covering 4784 square miles each. He then mapped accidents to the level of air pollution in a five year period between 2009 and 2014 using data provided by the Department for the Environment.

Lead Researcher Says

Lutz Sager, the Lead Researcher at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE said: “Although it has already been shown that air pollution adversely affects human health and the ability to carry out mental tasks, this is the first published study that assesses the impact on road safety. The analysis identifies a causal effect of air pollution on road accidents, but I can only speculate about the cause of the link. My main theory is that air pollution impairs drivers’ fitness. However, other explanations are possible such as air pollution causing physical distractions, perhaps an itching nose, or limiting visibility.”

AA Is Sceptical

Edmund King, the AA President, said: “If you think about areas which are high in air pollution they are a lot busier, with taxis and buses and lorries and where you have a greater mix of traffic you tend to have more accidents. It would be hard to tease apart whether a crash is caused by a driver wiping his eyes because of pollution or the type of traffic which is to blame. If you look at Mumbai and New Delhi where you have some of the worst air pollution, yes you have far more accidents, but it is also far more chaotic. So I think this research may be far-fetched as I think it would be very difficult to prove that a driver’s fitness is impaired by pollution.”

Convicted Driver Insurance

The research from this article suggests that distractions can have a strong impact on your driving ability. One ‘controllable’ distraction that commonly catches drivers out is mobile phone usage. If you have been involved in an accident while using your mobile phone and are struggling to get insurance, then get in touch with us today. One of our team of convicted driver experts will do their best to find you a competitive quote, so what are you waiting for? Click Get A Quote now or call 0800 221 8077.