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Do drivers care about the harm they cause?: a stated preference experiment to determine how drivers value their contribution to air pollution, noise and safety

Tillema, Gertjan (2009) Do drivers care about the harm they cause?: a stated preference experiment to determine how drivers value their contribution to air pollution, noise and safety.

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Abstract:Traveling and road transport are inseparably bound up with modern life. To a large extend, todays prosperity is the result of our ability to transport people and goods fast and cheap. However, this comes with a price. Traffic jams, noise, air pollution and accidents are some of the negative effects of the ever increasing amount of road traffic. Many of these effects are not carried by the driver, while almost all benefits are. From a macroscopic point of view it is reasonable to defend a system where many costs are paid by society, while the benefits are gained by individual drivers, as long as total costs are smaller than total benefits. Hence, a symptom of such a system is that those who make the decision to make a trip do not make an overall trade-off. They only take the benefits into account and not the costs. As a result, drivers have the incentive to drive more and choose the shortest and cheapest routes for them personally. This leads to even more costs for society and a decrease of societal welfare. To optimize societal welfare, several solutions are available. In some cases it can be achieved by regulation and infrastructural policies. Often this solution is too rigid. A second type of solution is road pricing. Although this type of taxing does increase societal welfare, it has also disadvantages: it gives the ’right to risk lives’, it’s often expensive and cannot handle compensation. A third option to increase welfare is to inform the driver about the consequences of the decisions made by the driver. This is based on the idea that, up to a certain level, people are altruistic: the utility of road use to the driver is influenced by the effects it has on others. In this view, the reason why drivers currently are not behaving in a more desirable way is because of a lack of information: if one does not know the differences between two routes in terms of costs for society -the external costs-, one cannot take them into account. Till now, it was unknown how drivers take these costs into account in route choice behavior when they know about the magnitude of the costs. This leads to the objective to determine how Dutch drivers value externality based attributes. Previous studies always focused on the valuation of external costs, like air pollution, on the driver instead of the valuation by the driver of the effects caused by himself. To find out what the valuation of the externalities is, a utility function is determined. In a utility function, all relevant attributes together determine the utility of the trip to the driver. In this study, the attributes of the utility are travel time, monetary travel costs, air pollution, noise and safety. The driver related attributes which are taken into account are trip purpose, income, gender and age. v A web based stated preference survey was conducted to gather the necessary data. The survey was designed using an orthogonal array to maximize the efficiency of the questionnaire. In total 178 respondents participated in the survey. Those respondents had to answer questions in two sections. In the first section people were asked about some characteristics, like gender and age. The second section consisted 18 stated preference questions, with two options per question. The software package BIOGEME was used to estimate the relative and quantitative importance of the attributes in the utility function. This was done both with a multinomial logit model and a multinomial probit model. The analysis shows that the multinomial logit model gives a slightly better fit than the multinomial probit model. All externality related attributes are found to be significant: people are willing to given up some time and money to reduce the effects on society of their behavior. Drivers value safety about three times higher than noise and air pollution. Noise is considered to be the least important externality for drivers. Older people care less about money, also when income is taken into account. People with higher incomes value time three times higher than those with low incomes. Professional drivers care substantially less about money, noise and air pollution and more about time. Younger driver care less about safety of others than older drivers. The value of time is found to be somewhere between e5 and e19 per hour. This is close to the e20 per hour found in a revealed preference study in Copenhagen. The value of safety is found to be approximately e160.000. This is within the range found in previous work, which found a willingness to pay for reducing one casualty of e152.000 to e316.000. The multinomial logit model turned out to give a slightly better fit than the multinomial probit model. For the entire sample, a ½2 of 0,12 was found for the logit model, while a value of 0,11 was found for the probit model. Fits for sub-samples lay between 0.09 and 0.43. This is a reasonable goodness of fit. Based on these findings, it is concluded that drivers are willing to make a trade-off which includes the external costs they create.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:55 traffic technology, transport technology
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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