Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Drop in driving deaths linked to rise in gas prices

with 3 comments

I missed this earlier so hat tip to Ben West

Soaring gas prices throughout much of the year caused people to drive more slowly and less often

which means there were both fewer collisions and they were less severe.

If that were the only effect of a high gas price, it would be one worthwhile outcome. In fact it is just the start. The current slump in oil prices is becuase the economy is in the toilet – but it will not stay there for long. Even the IEA is now saying that peak oil is imminent – and that means price instability. As the world’s economy starts to regain strength – which may take a while – demand for oil will rise again – but this time there will be no capacity to meet that demand. So prices will go on a tear.

If we were sensible people, we would not just start lots of old projects that havebeen waiting for funding. Of course we do need to patch up a lot of crumbling infrastructure, so I do expect some spending on roads and bridges. Existing ones – and replacements of those too old to be worth repairing, like the Patullo. But we should also look again at any project that proposes to expand road capacity or encourage higher speeds.

But mostly what we need to do is give people a real alternative to driving. A safer, more comfortable and more enviornmentally responsible way to travel.

And that means we start with trains and trams – not new roads. And the people we do not kill as a result will be the most visible reward – but by far not the only one.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 17, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Road safety

3 Responses

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  1. What’s the IEA? Please excuse ignorance here…

    Andy in Germany

    December 17, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  2. IEA = International Energy Agency

    “Current trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable – environmentally, economically and socially – they can and must be altered”,

    Press Release (08)21

    Stephen Rees

    December 18, 2008 at 7:10 am

  3. […] Hat tip to Stephen Rees for highlighting an advantage of high oil prices I’ve not considered: road deaths go down as people drive less and drive more slowly and the incidence and severity of accidents decreases. […]

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