Authorities Fear that Cheap Gas Will Lead to Increase in Traffic Accidents
For the last three months, gas prices have been at their lowest point since 2009. Not surprisingly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009 was also the last high point for traffic accident fatalities nationwide.
Officials say it’s actually a simple equation. As gas prices go down, more people drive and they tend to drive longer distances. In many instances, motorists will opt to drive instead of fly, as the price of gas makes a trip by car significantly less expensive than air travel. The more people on the road, the greater the number of motor vehicle accidents, assuming the rate of collisions remains the same.
In a study conducted by professor, Guangqing Chi, in the Social Studies department at South Dakota State University, researchers concluded that, if gas prices remain at or around $2 per gallon for the entire year, the nation could see an additional 9,000 traffic deaths in 2015. Chi conducted a study in Minnesota that demonstrated that a twenty cent decrease in gas prices resulted in an additional 15 deaths over the period of one month.
Researchers also believe that younger drivers will make up a disproportionate percentage of the additional fatalities. Chi found that older drivers were less likely to significantly change their driving patterns based on gas prices, as they still needed to drive to work and to take care of family matters. Younger drivers, though, with less commitments and less discretionary income, are expected to drive more as gas prices decline.
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