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The Downside of Lower Gas Prices – More Mayhem on the Roads

After flirting with four dollars a gallon (and exceeding that benchmark is some cities), gas prices have declined precipitously, and have remained at or below about two dollars a gallon for nearly 18 months. That’s great news for everybody, right? With lower gas prices, people have more discretionary income to spend elsewhere. The economy seems to have benefited significantly as a result. More people are traveling, making new home purchases, buying other non-essential items.

But there’s a cost, say traffic safety officials, who have long known that there’s a direct correlation between gas prices and injury and death on America’s roadways. And the reasons are pretty simple:

  • The lower the price of gas, the more people tend to travel by motor vehicle
  • Assuming a constant rate of accidents, if there are more people on the roads, there will be more accidents, more injuries and more traffic fatalities
  • Many people are choosing to drive for a longer vacation, as the cost savings over flying can be dramatic
  • People who preferred to travel by car are now driving further distances

The statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) support these concerns. According to the DOT, Americans drove approximately 3.15 trillion miles last year. The previous record? 3.003 trillion miles, back in 2007. Statistics are not in for 2015 yet, but many safety experts anticipate as many as 10,000 more traffic deaths in 2015 than in 2014.

According to NHTSA officials, younger drivers will see the brunt of the increase in injuries and fatalities, for two specific reasons. First, younger drivers generally have less discretionary income, so typically won’t be able to afford expensive gas. In addition, younger drivers typically don’t have the life commitments, such as work, that require them to drive regardless of the cost of gas. As a result, they’ll be most likely to change their driving habits as prices go (or stay) down.

Contact Aronberg & Kouser, P. A., Attorneys at Law

Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-429-1700. Your initial consultation is free.

We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You won’t be charged any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

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