, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 457–473 | Cite as

Motorways, tolls and road safety: evidence from Europe

  • Daniel Albalate
  • Germà BelEmail author
Open Access
Original Article


European governments are increasingly committed to road safety, due to the impact of road accidents in terms of economic loss and as a public health threat. In addition to regulation, providing better road infrastructure is an essential strategy to promote road safety. This paper investigates the relationships between different types of road quality and their impact on national safety outcomes using an international (European) panel data. Since European countries have different motorway network funding strategies—free motorways funded by the budget and tolled motorways funded by users—we pay special attention to the type of funding chosen and consider whether it has any consequences for safety. Our results suggest that extending the motorway network is associated with a reduction in fatality rates, while the rest of road types do not have the same positive effects. However, this virtue is only statistically significant for free motorways; tolled motorways do not provide any significant impact, probably due to socially inefficient pricing and investment policies currently in force.


Road safety Tolls Motorways and transportation 

JEL Classification

H23 I18 R48 



This research has received financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (ECO2009-06946) and the Regional Government of Catalonia (SGR2009-1066). Germà Bel acknowledges support from ICREA-Academia. We are grateful to comments received at the European Economic Association Congress held in Milan (August, 2008) and to suggestions from Samuel Berlinski, Xavier Fageda, David Lopez-Rodríguez, two anonymous referees, and the editor.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Barcelona Graduate School of EconomicsBarcelonaSpain

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