The Relationship Between Regional Economic Conditions and the Severity of Traffic Crashes

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To evaluate the relationship between regional economic conditions and the severity of injury suffered by victims of traffic crashes. This analysis augments the research on the relationship between economic conditions and traffic safety by focusing on injury severity per victim, which isolates the protective effect to individuals from other traffic safety effects such as crashes per mile and aggregate exposure to crashes.


A crash-specific data set from the State of Ohio is used together with county-level economic and demographic data to generate estimates that measure the impact of county-level per capita income and unemployment rate on the severity of injury suffered by each individual who is involved in a crash. The estimates are derived from an ordered probit model that controls for other factors that influence injury severity independently of economic conditions.


The resulting estimates indicate that on average, individuals involved in crashes that occur in relatively prosperous counties suffer less severe injuries than those in less prosperous counties, holding other influential factors constant. Regional per capita income has a proportionally greater impact on injury severity than does regional unemployment rate.


The estimates indicate that regional economic conditions have a statistically significant beneficial impact on traffic safety by improving the level of injury suffered by crash victims. Therefore, state and federal public policy makers should consider this factor when allocating traffic safety-related resources among geographical regions.



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