Dr. Marcel Müller
November 17, 2022

What if Air Quality Dictates Road Pricing?

Cars are one of the main sources of air pollution worldwide. Automobile emissions release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. These harmful pollutants contribute to global warming, reduce air quality and can have an adverse effect on human health, particularly in urban areas with high levels of car traffic. Air pollution from cars can be reduced by using alternative fuel sources such as electric car batteries or hydrogen fuel cells or through policy measures such as congestion charging or incentivizing carpooling and public transport use.

A new study from TU Berlin and Deep Tech Center's Dr. Marcel Müller created a new concept exploring what if air quality dictates road pricing. The research simulated a new distance and air pollution-based charging scheme in the metropolitan region of Berlin, taking into consideration vehicle emission class, single-trip distance and air quality along the route.

With the scheme that the researchers created, simulation results showed that it is financially beneficial for drivers to avoid areas of high air pollution in order to reduce the trip’s total road usage costs. The average additional detour distance was short in comparison to the route’s length and the resulting additional emissions did not rise as quickly as the number of detours due to inherent benefits like shorter distances.

The ongoing exploration provides essential insight into how air pollution could be used to inform road pricing models across the globe. This type of model incentivizes mindful driving by making drivers more aware of their environmental impact and encourages them to opt for routes that benefit both their wallets and our planet.

Find the full article available here.

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