Sat, Dec 14, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Road accidents also have environmental costs: survey

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A survey from the Institute of Transportation (IOT) showed yesterday that traffic accidents on the freeway may contribute to an increase in fuel consumption cost of about NT$500 million a year, on top of the losses of lives and money.

Chang Kai-ku (張 開 國), director of the institute’s transportation safety division, said that the traffic accidents would not only cause casualties and financial losses, but could also lead to an additional burden on the environment.

Chang said that the institute analyzed the statistics collected from the nation’s freeways in 2010, in which 13,676 traffic accidents were recorded. A total of 74 people were killed and 1,525 were injured, he said.

“The traffic accidents would cause all cars nearby to slow down and driving slowly causes vehicles to consume more gas and emit more carbon dioxide,” he said.

Fuel would also be consumed by the police who came to handle the accident, Chang said.

On average, the survey found it took the police about 20 minutes to get to the accident scene, and they would take another 30 minutes to gather evidence.

If any of the passengers was killed in the accident, the time needed to gather evidence would be longer, he added.

Based on the institute’s models, traffic accidents that occurred in 2010 caused fuel consumption to increase by about 16.53 million liters, which in turn led to 37.4 million kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

Currently, one liter of unleaded gasoline #95 costs NT$34.77. This means that the nation spent more than NT$500 million thanks to freeway accidents, according to the institute.

Chang said that a 20-year-old tree can absorb about an average of 15kg of carbon dioxide per year. The nation would have had to have grown 2.5 million trees in 2010 to fully absorb the carbon emitted by the freeway traffic accidents that year, he said.

The institute also found that the nation would have to pay an additional NT$42,000 on each freeway accident for the fuel consumed.

“The study showed that reducing traffic accidents would not only save lives, but would also help better sustainable development,” Chang said.

Statistics from the number of traffic accidents on the freeways increased from 13,676 in 2010 to 17,249 in 2011. The number went up further to 17,586 last year.

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