Estimating the willingness to pay and value of risk reduction for car occupants in the road environment
In recent years there has been a re-focus on the valuation of a statistical life from the ex post or human capital method to an ex ante willingness to pay (WTP) approach. This is in part a recognition that we may have been undervaluing the cost of fatalities and injuries to society associated with crashes, but also a strong belief in the need to focus on establishing the amount, ex ante, that individuals are willing to pay to reduce the risk of exposure to circumstances that might lead to death or degree of injury on the road network. This study has developed a framework in which to identify the degree of preference heterogeneity in willingness to pay by individuals who are drivers or passengers in cars to avoid being killed or injured. A stated choice experiment approach is developed. The empirical setting is a choice of route for a particular trip that a sample of individuals periodically undertakes in Australia. The particular trip is described in enough detail to provide the respondent with a familiar market environment, providing all the relevant background information required for making a decision. Mixed logit models are estimated to obtain the marginal (dis)utilities associated with each influence on the choice amongst the attribute packages offered in the stated choice scenarios. These estimates are used to obtain the WTP distributions for fatality and injury avoidance, which are then aggregated to obtain estimates of the value of risk reduction (VRR), of which the fatality class is also known as the value of a statistical life (VSL).