Declining road fatalities: Less driving not the only cause

Jun 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Fewer Americans are dying on our nation's roads, not only because they are driving less, but also because the type of driving has changed, says a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

A new article by UMTRI's Michael Sivak in the June issue of Injury Prevention suggests that a larger-than-expected drop in road fatalities is partly due to disproportional decreases in rural and leisure driving.

"Rural driving is more risky than urban driving primarily because of high speeds, but there is evidence that it has recently decreased more substantially than urban driving," said Sivak, research professor and head of UMTRI's Human Factors Division. "Analogously, leisure driving is more risky than commuter driving because of higher speeds, greater involvement of alcohol and more nighttime driving, but we are more likely to reduce leisure driving, if needed, than commuter driving."

Using monthly data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration and Energy Information Administration, Sivak performed statistical analyses on distance driven, proportion of driving on rural roads and the average price of unleaded as a proxy for the proportion of leisure driving. His study covered the period from January 2007 to December 2008.

He found that distance driven, proportion of rural driving and the price of gasoline accounted for 81 percent of the variance in road fatalities.

"The general has led to a greater reduction in rural driving than urban driving because people in rural areas tend to have less income to start with than those in urban areas," Sivak said. "On the other hand, the price of gasoline in particular has influenced leisure driving more than commuter driving."

Provided by University of Michigan (news : web)

Explore further: Physicist creates ice cream that changes colors as it's licked

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Major drop in traffic deaths: It's more than high gas prices

Jul 28, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Rising fuel prices, resulting in less driving, may very well be a reason for the decline in traffic deaths, as recent reports have suggested. But a new report by the University of Michigan shows that som ...

Drivers getting cash for driving less

Dec 28, 2005

A groundbreaking study is aimed at finding out if people will change their driving habits if they had to pay a toll for almost every mile they drive.

Bad driving habits start early

Jun 09, 2005

A new study will investigate whether children learn driving habits from their parents, years before they get behind the wheel.

Recommended for you

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds (w/ Video)

14 hours ago

A new study involving scientists from the University of Southampton has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, ...

Congressional rift over environment influences public

17 hours ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Rural loss and ruin can be avoided

20 hours ago

An Australian Reconstruction Development Board needs to be established to help avoid more needless forcing of Australian farmers from their land, a QUT economist has said.

User comments : 0