A new study indicates that high gas prices could reduce auto deaths by nearly a third, and even more among price-sensitive teenage drivers.
According to LiveScience, "Professors Michael Morrisey of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School found that for every 10 percent increase in gas prices there was a 2.3 percent decline in auto deaths. For drivers ages 15 to 17, the decline was 6 percent, and for ages 18 to 21, it was 3.2 percent....
"I think there is some silver lining here in higher gas taxes in that we will see a public health gain," Grabowski said. But he cautioned that their estimate of a decline of 1,000 deaths a month could be offset somewhat by the shift under way to smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient cars and the increase in motorcycle and scooter driving. "
"When that happens we drive more, we drive bigger cars, we drive faster and fatalities are higher," he said. ::LiveScience
We have suggested this before; it is a virtuous cycle where high gas prices lead to lower speeds and smaller cars. Lower speeds mean 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.
As I said in a previous post, "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."
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