Monday, August 25, 2008

High gas prices = lives saved?

I found something interesting in the Flint Journal, gods love 'em.

It would appear that there is a direct correlation between the price of gasoline and traffic fatalities, nation wide. (Read the full story here.)

This year, gasoline climbed over $4 a gallon, and the traffic death toll -- according to one study -- appears headed to the lowest levels since Kennedy moved into the White House.

No, Ted Kennedy has not moved into the White House; they mean JFK, if you can believe that.

The institute's study -- which covers 12 months ending in April -- found that as gas prices rose, driving and fatalities declined. The surprise, said Professor Michael Sivak, author of the study, was the huge decline in fatalities in March and April as gasoline prices surged above $3.20 a gallon.

Based on my own observations, I don't see this. It seems to me that people still drive like maniacs, and there are just as many cars on the road as ever.

But then, I'm not on the road as much myself. There are days when I don't drive anywhere.

Sivak predicts that highway deaths this year will drop below 37,000 for the first time since 1961 if the March and April trends continue. The government motor vehicle death count for 1961 totaled 36,285. The number of highway deaths peaked in 1972 at 55,600, then generally declined over the next two decades. For the past several years, the number has hovered above 42,000 a year.

It seems two demographics most responsible for car crashes - teens and senior citizens - are also the most affected by the high prices of gasoline.

Federal data also show that driving declines have been more dramatic on rural roads, which have higher accident rates than urban highways.

A little know fact is that urban highways, unlike rural roads, are built to handle speeding vehicles. *ahem*

Anyway, it's interesting that with all the highway safety stuff that's always shoved down our throats, all it took was some fiscal mismanagement to solve the problem.

So ... does this mean Bush is really a genius?

Well, the reduction in revenue from the gasoline tax is having an impact, but it seems there is/was a lot of pork in there that can be cut out with no lasting or drastic effects.

As long as the Whittier Bridge gets fixed, that is.

1 comment:

save money on gas said...

I figure it's a good thing to get more of the dangerous seniors and teens off the road, they scare me sometimes (I know some of you drive fine, so don't take this personally if you're one of them).

So maybe this is an unforeseen benefit to high prices after all!