Vehicle emissions datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
October 13, 2009
know that the best thing you can do if you want to bring your crime rate down is to switch to unleaded gasoline and then wait for 20 years. Now we're learning that if you want to improve the health of babies (and healthy babies become much more productive members of society when they grow up), simply installing an EZ-Pass tollbooth has a large and significant positive effect: the resulting improvements in congestion and emissions more than make up for any excess emissions from cars crawling through the toll plaza itself.

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Vehicle emissions are a major public health issue. We already know that the best thing you can do if you want to bring your crime rate down is to switch to unleaded gasoline and then wait for 20 years. Now we’re learning that if you want to improve the health of babies (and healthy babies become much more productive members of society when they grow up), simply installing an EZ-Pass tollbooth has a large and significant positive effect: the resulting improvements in congestion and emissions more than make up for any excess emissions from cars crawling through the toll plaza itself.

The negative externalities from driving, then, are significantly greater than the ones that the likes of Charles Komanoff calculates — and those are $160 per trip, in Manhattan. If we want to become a happier, healthier, more prosperous nation, then we have to wean ourselves off our car addiction. It won’t be fast, and it won’t be easy. But it’s profoundly necessary.

(Via Wessel)

Update: The E-Z Pass study can be found here; the link in the WSJ blog is broken. Thanks to Charles Kenny for the pointer.

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