New Brunswick Auto Accident Lawyers: Lower Gas Prices Tied to Higher Rate of Traffic Accidents
Lower Gas Prices and Motor Vehicle Accidents
With gas prices at their lowest point since 2009, more and more Americans are taking to the roads, and more and more are opting to drive longer distances. Air travel is down and motor vehicle travel is up dramatically, according to statistics. But there’s a downside to lower gas prices and it’s a pretty simple equation—the lower the cost of gas, the more people on the road; the more people on the road, the more accidents that will occur.
Government officials have long understood the link between the price of gas and the rate in injury and death in motor vehicle accidents. When gas dipped below $2.00 a gallon in 2009, officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saw the end of more than four consecutive years of decline in motor vehicle accidents nationally. In fact, there was a double digit increase in traffic fatalities nationwide during the first quarter that year.
Guangqing Chi, a social studies professor at South Dakota State University, has been studying the correlation between gas prices and traffic accidents since 2008. He says he noticed that his driving habits changed based on the cost of gas, and he wondered if that was true for most people. His research has borne out that thesis. One study he conducted showed an additional 15 traffic fatalities in Minnesota tied to a 20 cent decrease in gas prices. He estimates that, should gas prices remain at or around $2 less than last year’s average in 2015, there could be 9,000 addition deaths on American highways this year.
The projections are even worse for younger drivers. Chi’s research shows that adults with job or family responsibilities make fewer changes in their driving habits than younger drivers, ostensibly for a couple reasons—they can’t change their responsibilities as easily, and they have more discretionary income to deal with higher gas prices. When gas prices go down, younger drivers are more inclined to get behind the wheel.
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