BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 11 (UPI) -- If gas remains at $4 a
gallon or higher for a year or more, annual U.S. traffic deaths
could drop by about one-third, or 12,000 people, researchers said.
Study co-authors Michael Morrisey, director of University of
Alabama at Birmingham's Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, and
David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School said that higher gasoline
prices do come with a plus side -- deaths from traffic accidents
drop significantly as people slow down and drive less.
If gas remains at $4 a gallon or higher for a year or more,
traffic deaths could drop by more than 1,000 per month nationwide,
the researchers said.
"It is remarkable to think that a percent change in gas
prices can equal lives saved, which is what our data show," Morrisey
said in a statement. "For every 10 percent rise in gas prices,
fatalities are reduced by 2.3 percent. The effects are even more
dramatic for teen drivers."
The research included death rates and gas price changes from
1985 through 2006, and the calculated percent reduction in
fatalities can be extrapolated to 2008 and beyond, Morrisey said.
In 2006, there were 42,642 total U.S. traffic deaths from
38,588 fatal crashes. the Fatality Analysis Reporting System