Background To improve the information for and preparation of citizens at risk to hazardous material transport accidents, a first important step is to determine how different characteristics of hazardous material transport accidents will influence citizens' protective behaviour. However, quantitative studies investigating citizens' protective behaviour in case of hazardous material transport accidents are scarce. Methods A discrete choice experiment was conducted among subjects (19-64 years) living in the direct vicinity of a large waterway. Scenarios were described by three transport accident characteristics: odour perception, smoke/vapour perception, and the proportion of people in the environment that were leaving at their own discretion. Subjects were asked to consider each scenario as realistic and to choose the alternative that was most appealing to them: staying, seeking shelter, or escaping. A panel error component model was used to quantify how different transport accident characteristics influenced subjects' protective behaviour. Results The response was 44% (881/1,994). The predicted probability that a subject would stay ranged from 1% in case of a severe looking accident till 62% in case of a mild looking accident. All three transport accident characteristics proved to influence protective behaviour. Particularly a perception of strong ammonia or mercaptan odours and visible smoke/vapour close to citizens had the strongest positive influence on escaping. In general, 'escaping' was more preferred than 'seeking shelter', although stated preference heterogeneity among subjects for these protective behaviour options was substantial. Males were less willing to seek shelter than females, whereas elderly people were more willing to escape than younger people. Conclusion Various characteristics of transport accident involving hazardous materials influence subjects' protective behaviour. The preference heterogeneity shows that information needs to be targeted differently depending on gender and age to prepare citizens properly.,
Department of Public Health

de Bekker-Grob, E.W, Bergstra, A.D, Bliemer, M.C.J, Trijssenaar-Buhre, I.J.M, & Burdorf, A. (2015). Protective behaviour of citizens to transport accidents involving hazardous materials: A discrete choice experiment applied to populated areas nearby waterways. PLoS ONE, 10(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142507