The current economic climate, of which petrol prices are a prominent feature, has brought doom and gloom globally as people lose their jobs and are forced to cut back on spending leading thriftier, leaner less fulfilling lives. However, as the old adage goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and the one surrounding the fuel price situation is particularly shiny; fewer road deaths.
It has been noted that, throughout the U.S, the number of road deaths that occur on a year on year are inversely proportional to petrol prices, i.e. historical figures support the trend of a rise in petrol prices causing a fall in road deaths.
In order to gain some insight, it is worth knowing that back in 2008 it was recognised that higher fuel prices in Columbus Ohio meant significantly few deaths in the period March-May in comparison to the same period in 2007, with an average 13% drop. Thirty one other states reported a drop of at least 10%. As a point of reference the last time the U.S experience such a sharp fall was through the Arab oil embargo which took place between 1973 and 1974 when fatalities fell by 17%.
Today, as oil prices tickle the $4 per barrel mark, it is expected that road deaths will take a similar tumble in what can only be called a fortunate and welcome side-effect of global economic conditions. So why does this phenomenon occur? It is not difficult to fathom that high fuel prices means less road users and a fall in accidents deaths by default.
Additionally, higher fuel prices mean that motorists who can still afford to run a vehicle are encouraged to slow up in attempt to prolong the contents of their fuel tank for as long as possible. This creates a win win situation for drivers, their fellow road users and pedestrians, even if it does mean leaving a little earlier to get to work on time. Lower petrol prices are not all doom and gloom!
Joe is a road safety campaigner and blogger working for a car rental firm