A new study by the London School of Economics has reported that health issues drivers face due to pollution may be a leading cause of traffic accidents.
Pollution from the outside can more than double in the car, thanks to nitrogen oxide building in intensity from the small space. This can lead to health consequences that can impair a driver’s ability.
Drivers exposed to pollution may experience a watery nose or eyes, which can make it difficult for them to see the road clearly. Pollution can also impact a driver’s fitness.
Lutz Sager, the lead researcher on the study, stated:
“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.”
Within the study, Sager and his team mapped out the pollution in London between the years of 2009 and 2014.
They then studied the rate of car accidents for each area and found that even a small rise in the amount of pollution in the air could increase the number of road accidents that occur each day by 2%.
Reducing nitrogen oxide by 30% was found to have a 5% reduction in the number of accidents that occurred in that particular area.
Currently, the results are part of a working paper and will be placed in a peer reviewed journal in the next few weeks. And while the researchers admit that the link is casual and more studies are needed in order to make the study conclusive, some scientists just aren’t buying that pollution causes driver impairment or accidents.
AA, the British equivalent of AAA, president Edmund King, stated:
“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.”
More studies will be conducted in order to find conclusive evidence of this claim.