Drivers in cities could be at increased risk of being involved in an accident during parliamentary election build-ups, according to research by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
“In the period in which election placards are up, we have estimated that there is approximately 0.5 accidents extra each day within city zones, compared to what there usually would be,” associate professor Anders Stockmarr of DTU’s Statistics and Data Analysis department, who supervised the research, told news wire Ritzau.
The results could indicate a connection between a higher number of accidents and the presence of the placards, he said.
“This could be because people look up at the election placards and become less attentive in traffic, and so accidents sometimes happen,” he said.
The students behind the research looked at data from municipal, regional and EU elections as well as parliamentary elections. Placards and posters are used in all types of election.
Although data from other types of election also suggested drivers may be distracted, “the effects were small and we have not been able to document that they are actually there,” Stockmarr said.
That may be because the higher profile of parliamentary elections means drivers are more likely to give their attention to them.
“These numbers should be used to warn that drivers in cities should be cautious during the election campaign. People should double check traffic before looking up at an election poster,” Stockmarr said.
The data used in the study was collected from seven parliamentary elections between 1997 and 2019.
Accidents involving alcohol or medicine or known to be caused by weather conditions were not included in the data set. Rural areas, where election posters are fewer, were also not included.