(See also problems and benefits of
EXTERNAL COSTS OF ROAD USE
The annual external costs of road use in the U.K. have been estinated as
follows (in billions of UKP):
| Air pollution || 19.7 |
| Congestion || 17.5 |
| Accidents || 9.4 |
| Noise || 2.6 |
| Road damage || 1.5 |
| Climate change || 0.1 |
| (Road building || not included) |
| Total || 50.8 £Bn. |
This contrasts with the revenues obtained by the exchequer from motorists
via fuel taxes and duty (Fuel tax: 12.5, Excise duty: 3.6; Total: 16.1
£Bn). Thus motorists are being subsidized by an amount three times larger
than that which they pay via taxes and duty.
- The figures represent external costs - that is, costs not borne by
the road user, but which the rest of society must pay. Such costs
therefore represent an indirect subsidy to road use.
- The costs of road construction is not included. The figure gives
the costs incurred by road users in using the road system as it is.
- The figures have been collated in Bowers (1996): "The Real Costs of
Motoring", published by the Environmental Transport Association. This
document sets out clearly the basis for calculations, including any
interpretations made and arguments why they are valid.
- Each figure has been calculated using Government sources as far as
- The figures are made up as follows:
- Air pollution: The impact on human health of six pollutants,
using a 'willingness to pay' approach (i.e. the value people place on
avoiding the effects of pollution in other areas of life). Excludes
costs due to cancer-causing pollutants, because difficult to quantify
as yet, costs of damage to buildings, crops, forests, visibility,
etc., costs of pollution from vehicle manufacture and fuel
- Congestion: Marginal costs to society and other road users of
congestion, using a method of calculation by David Newbery for the
- Accidents: Costs of medical costs not covered by insurance,
loss of productivity, distress to persons involved, the statistical
value of each life. An underestimate because many accidents go
unreported and people have a distorted perception of their own risk.
- Noise: Measured from variations in house prices due to noise.
Excludes costs of medical prescriptions, lowered productivity,
learning problems among children.
- Road damage: The published figures for road repair.
Excluding costs of road building.
- Climate change: Difficult to quantify because one has to
assess probably future damage to farming, cities, land, etc.
Calculated from average effect on GDP and scaled as appropriate.
- The following costs are incurred because of road use but have not
been included. The costs to the NHS of treating ailments due to
insufficient exercise due to excessive car use is one important omission.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 1998 and Environmental Transport Association, 1996. 10
September 1999 moved to facts/.