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Would Texas consumers trade high gas prices for lives?

Texas residents have been enjoying the benefits of lower gas prices this past year, and most of us would love it if they continue to drop.However, what if the lower gas prices were causing more accidents and fatalities on the road? Would we still want to see them continue to drop even if it meant more lives lost?

According to a sociologist at South Dakota State University, lower gas prices result in more fatal accidents on our roads and highways. The sociologist performed a study on the declining gas prices across the United States. The results of one of his studies in Minnesota revealed 15 more deaths annually with just a 20-cent decrease in the price of gasoline.

When asked what he thought a $2 decrease in the price of gas would do, he estimated that it could result in 9,000 auto accident deaths in the United States per year.

The obvious reason for increased collisions and fatalities is more drivers on the road. When gas prices are high, people cut back and drive less. They carpool, make one trip to run multiple errands instead of several separate ones, and they also go out to shop less. The sociologist also believes that younger drivers, who have less money available to spend on gas, drive less when gas prices are high. Therefore, the more inexperienced drivers are not on the road as much.

In summary, the sociologist believes the answer to reducing accidents is to “raise” gas prices. A better option might be to make drivers more accountable for reckless or negligent driving.

Perhaps stiffer penalties and fines for speeding, DUI or other driving offenses might be a better way to reduce the number of fatalities or injuries from car accidents in this country. Holding negligent and reckless drivers monetarily liable for damages in personal lawsuits could also help to deter other drivers from engaging in reckless behavior.

Source: Texas Public Radio, “The Downside Of Cheaper Gas: More Accident Fatalities” Shankar Vedantam, Jan. 06, 2015

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