Washington, July 14 : A researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) believes that higher fuel prices may lead to a reduction in the deaths from road accidents.
Dr. Michael Morrisey, director of UAB's Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, says that an analysis of yearly vehicle deaths compared to gas prices suggests that fatality rates drop significantly as people slow down and drive less.
In the study report, he writes that traffic deaths could drop by more than 1,000 per month nationwide if gas remains at four dollars a gallon or higher for a year or more.
"It is remarkable to think that a percent change in gas prices can equal lives saved, which is what our data show. For every 10 percent rise in gas prices, fatalities are reduced by 2.3 percent. The effects are even more dramatic for teen drivers," Morrisey said.
For their study, the researchers took into account death rates and gas-price changes from 1985 through 2006.
Morrisey says that this study builds on a previous study that showed that lower gas prices have the opposite effect by wiping away many of lifesaving outcomes from the enactment of mandatory seatbelt laws, lower blood alcohol limits and graduated drivers licenses for youth.
The UAB-Harvard study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that the more restrictive graduated license programs helped reduce traffic deaths by 24 percent among drivers aged 15 to 17.
Morrisey said that the calculated percent reduction in fatalities could be extrapolated to 2008 and beyond.