Economic concerns could be causing us to have more accidents, a study shows...

The current economic climate has caused a spike in vehicle collisions by increasing people’s feelings of stress and anxiety, at least according to new research from London-based academics.

A study by Dr Sotiris Vandoros, a senior lecturer in health economics at the business school at King’s College London, has found that increases in economic uncertainty distract drivers and disrupt their sleep cycles, going on to cause an increased risk of collision.

The research analysed 10 years' worth of data from the economic policy uncertainty index, which is derived from analysis of daily newspapers, and found a link to the number of motor vehicle collisions in Great Britain that took place between 2005 and 2015.

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Although there has generally been a reduction in collisions over this time, Dr Vandoros found that increases in economic uncertainty cause ‘short-term deviations from this trend’.

According to King’s Business School, the volatile economic climate affects people’s perceptions of their future finances, causing them to be stressed and distracted, as well as potentially resulting in sleepless nights. All of these issues could mean that driver end up making more mistakes while behind the wheel.

The research found that while a five-fold increase in the uncertainty index is not unusual, such a drop in public confidence is enough to cause more than 30 extra accidents per week.

‘Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for 15 to 29-year-olds globally, and there are 1.25 million road traffic fatalities every year. With more turbulent economic and political times likely to lie ahead, developing preventive traffic control measures which can be escalated during periods of economic uncertainty is essential and could save many lives.’ said Dr Vandoros.