Reporter 402, 19 May 1997


Hidden cost of road tolls

Drivers are twice as likely to drive more dangerously if they are paying for time spent on the road, according to research findings by the Institute of Transport Studies. A study involving 44 drivers, using a driving simulator, showed that drivers were more likely to jump red lights, speed and overtake illegally if they were being charged on a time basis for road use.

Project head Professor Peter Bonsall said "Time-based charges clearly force drivers to try and complete their journeys in the shortest time possible - by taking dangerous risks along the way."

Subjects generally admitted to having driven more dangerously and to have felt more anxious after the journey and to have more often lost control of the vehicle when being charged. These results were apparent even at the lowest charge rates.

The study made use of the Leeds driving simulator, a Rover 216GT saloon car positioned in front of a curved screen which shows a computer-generated view of the road ahead. The car's controls are also linked to the computer to give an impression of movement. The study is funded by the EPSRC.

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