According to studies, gasoline prices are having a positive effect on traffic fatalities, and this year the number of traffic deaths may reach their lowest level since 1961. Preliminary figures on auto accident deaths show that higher gas prices nationwide have lead to a dramatic reduction in those killed. With a gasoline shortage gripping Georgia, Tennessee, and other parts of the Southeast after Hurricane Ike, it’s likely that figures will continue to drop.
Traffic fatalities in 1961, when gasoline was less than one tenth its current price–$0.31 per gallon–were just over 36,200. Traffic fatality rates then rose every year, and peaked at 55,600 in 1972, despite the addition of mandatory seatbelt regulations by the federal government. After years of steady decline, the number hovered just above 42,000 per year, despite the fact that people were buying huge SUVs that made them feel safer in the event of an accident. Then last year it dropped to 41,059, and this year the number of fatalities dropped sharply, 22 % in March, and 18 % in April as people stopped driving their supposedly-safe SUVs because of high gas prices. If the trend continues, fatalities will be less than 37,000 this year for the first time since 1961.
The changes are not uniform across age groups. Teenagers and the elderly, who are the most likely to die in traffic accidents, are adversely affected by gasoline prices and tend to change their behaviors first, so the number of deaths among these groups is declining more rapidly than other groups.
With the gasoline shortage, there will hopefully be an even greater decline in traffic fatalities, because many of the very driving behaviors that conserve gas–driving slower, observing proper spacing, and others–are also safer driving behaviors.
But if you have lost a loved one as a result of an auto accident, contact an experienced Atlanta, Georgia auto accident lawyer at Robbins Law, PC today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.