What is the impact of border trading on local traffic?

Lisanud Annegrete Peek 2018/06/22

The third post in the "Open Data and Data Journalism" series explores the impact of border trading  on traffic. In more detail, we will look at how the number for traffic violations and accidents have changed near Valga and Ikla border crossing points and in the rest of Estonia.

From the media, we know that Estonians are buying alcohol in Latvia and how much has it cost Estonia the tax money. It has also been argued that this has increased the number of traffic accidents in Valgamaa. Do we see such results in open data?
To answer, let's take a look at Estonia's situation over the last 5 years. In the analysis, 2013-2015 will be the so-called base years, and 2016-2017 will be the years when border trading has flourished. The most popular destinations on the Latvian border are the Valga and Ikla border points, therefore, we divide Estonia into three regions:

  • Valga region that is 40 km from the Valga border point;

  • Ikla region that is 40 km from the Ikla border point;

  • the rest of Estonia.

We first investigate traffic offenses. We have very good data about them - police traffic surveillance data. Let's look at how different violations have changed in these three areas.

The number of traffic offenses has decreased in all regions. When the number of over speeding violations in Estonia grew until 2016, it has decreased steadily in border regions. The number of violations of all other groups has also decreased.

When looking at the figures for 2017, we must remember that in the second half of the year Estonia held the EU presidency that needed more police involvement in other areas. Police did not have the opportunity to deal with traffic control as much as in previous years.

Secondly, we look at traffic accident data. Unfortunately, we don’t have open data about that, but the data from the Estonian Traffic Insurance Fund (Eesti Liikluskindlustuse Fond) is comparable. This is the data about accidents where insurance was involved.

The number of road accidents has increased in general. Because there are few accidents in Iklas, its growth is also the highest. In the Valga traffic accidents pattern is different from the rest of Estonia. However, when comparing the maximum and minimum figures for the Valga region and the rest of Estonia, both have a maximum of 14% higher than the minimum. If we ignore the low figure for 2014, the number of traffic accidents in the Valga region has been almost stable.

In the Valga or the Ikla area border trading has not made traffic more dangerous. The number of traffic offenses has decreased steadily and the number of traffic accidents has increased, but it also has increased in the rest of Estonia.

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