Health and environmental cost of traffic totals 14 billion Swiss francs

Health and environmental cost of traffic totals 14 billion Swiss francs

A report by the Federal Office for Spatial Development has found that traffic in Switzerland generates around 1.600 Swiss francs in costs per inhabitant over the space of a year. According to the office’s latest figures, the health and environmental cost of traffic across Swiss cantons came to around 14 billion Swiss francs in 2019, 1,4 percent more than the previous year.

Hidden costs of traffic are often health-related

Though many people understand the impact that cars have on environmental and human health in terms of petrol usage and road accidents, there are also “hidden costs” associated with traffic in Switzerland. These external costs often include negative effects on the environment that are costly to fix, or damaging effects on human health which force people to seek out expensive healthcare in Switzerland

Out of the 14 billion Swiss francs of hidden costs that were spent in 2019, 9,8 billion was directly attributable to driving cars, while the rest can be put down to air traffic (especially near airports), public transport, walking and cycling. The statistics also show that in 2019 alone, the environmental damage caused by motor traffic cost Switzerland approximately nine billion Swiss francs and the cost of healthcare-associated damages totalled over five billion. 

Traffic causes environmental damage and crop loss in Switzerland

In terms of specific examples of environmental damage in Switzerland, unfortunately, there are many. Traffic has caused an annual crop loss of 94.000 tonnes of cereals and 139.000 tonnes of vegetables and fruit, with a value of around 56 million Swiss francs. The study shows that children in Switzerland also suffered 39.300 days of asthma due to traffic and 17.500 years of life were lost due to the pollution caused by cars and planes. 

According to the study’s authors, even though cycling does have some financial costs, the benefits are said to outweigh them. The Federal Office for Spatial Development estimates the financial benefits of cycling to be 318 million for the country, for example, through improved health of the population. 

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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