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Improvements in medical care and technology and reductions in traffic-related fatalities in Great Britain

By Robert Noland and Mohammed Abdul Quddus

Abstract

Traffic-related fatalities in the UK have fallen dramatically over the last 30 years by about 50%. This decline has been observed in many other developed countries with similar rates of reduction. Many factors have been associated with this decline, including safer vehicle design, increased seat-belt use, changing demographics, and improved infrastructure. One factor not normally considered is the role that improved medical technology may have in reducing total traffic-related fatalities. This study analyzed cross-sectional time-series data in the UK to examine this relationship. Various proxies for medical technology improvement were included in a fixed effects negative binomial model to assess whether they are associated with reductions in traffic-related fatalities. Various demographic variables, such as age cohorts, GDP and changes in per-capita income are also included. The statistical methods employed control for heterogeneity in the data and therefore other factors that may affect the dependent variable for which data are not available do not need to be considered. Results suggest a strong relationship between improved medical technology and reductions in traffic-related fatalities as well as expected relationships with demographic factors. These results could imply that continued reductions in UK fatalities may be more difficult to achieve if medical technology improvements are diminishing, however, demographic changes will likely contribute to a further downward trend.

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