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The short-term impact of economic uncertainty on motor vehicle collisions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalPreventive Medicine
E-pub ahead of print7 Feb 2018


King's Authors


Stress and anxiety lead to attention loss and sleep deprivation and may reduce driving performance, increasing the risk of motor vehicle collision. We used evidence from a natural experiment to examine whether daily changes in economic uncertainty, potentially leading to attention or sleep loss, are associated with collisions in Great Britain. Daily data from the economic policy uncertainty index, derived from analysis of daily UK newspapers, were linked to the daily number of motor vehicle collisions in Great Britain over the period 2005-2015, obtained from the Department for Transport. Exploiting daily variations in economic uncertainty, we used a GARCH approach to model daily rates of motor vehicle collisions as a function of economic uncertainty, controlling for month and day of the week, monthly unemployment rates and weekly unleaded petrol prices. A spike in the daily economic uncertainty index was associated with an immediate increase in the number of motor vehicle collisions. Results were robust to various sensitivity analyses. Overall, daily increases in economic uncertainty are associated with short-term spikes in motor vehicle collisions. Preventive and traffic control measures may need to increase during periods of economic uncertainty.

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