High Gas Prices Mean Fewer Traffic Fatalities

We noted earlier a study from the Harvard Medical School that calculated that for every 10% increase in gas prices there was a 2.3% decline in auto deaths.

Now a new report from Michael Sivak of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan finds an even more dramatic fall. Associated Press reports that:

Over the previous 10 months, monthly fatalities declined an average of 4.2 percent compared to the previous year. Then, Sivak's data shows, fatalities dropped 22.1 percent in March and 17.9 percent in April of this year...The declines found by Sivak suggest that motorists reached what he calls a "tipping point" and have begun significantly changing their behavior — altering not only how much they drive, but where, when and how they drive. Sivak said early data for May and June show similar trends.

"There is something more than just the reduction in driving that has to be brought in as an explanation for the huge drop in fatalities," Sivak said.

Kids can't afford to cruise like they did in American Graffiti

Joan Lowy continues for AP:

"Experts who have studied motor vehicle fatality trends said one reason for the dramatic decline is that people are reducing their nonessential driving first, which is often leisure driving at night or on weekends. That also happens to be riskier than daylight commuting on congested highways at lower speeds.

Teenage and elderly drivers — who also have higher accident rates — are more likely to feel the pinch of higher gas prices, and thus may be cutting back more than other drivers. Federal data also shows that driving declines have been more dramatic on rural roads, which have higher accident rates than urban highways.

And, some drivers are simply trying to save on gas by slowing down, which also decreases risk." ::Associated Press

I will repeat here what I wrote on the last post about this subject, High Gas Prices = Fewer Auto Deaths:

"It is a virtuous cycle where high gas prices lead to lower speeds and smaller cars. Lower speeds mean fewer and less destructive accidents, and less need for so much heavy crash protection and air bags, leading to even lower fuel consumption. Smaller, lower, perhaps even more vulnerable cars lead to more interaction with other people on the road, like cyclists.

We don't need hydrogen cars and new technology, we just need better, smaller designs, lower speed limits and no big SUVs on the road to squish them."

Lots of Good Things Happen when You Drive Slowly
Small Cars "Almost Cheaper Than Walking"
55 MPH: It's time to bring it back.
Another Reason to Drive 55 : You Take Better Pictures

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