The previous post on mileage driven drew not just attention here, but prompted more inquiries into traffic stats. Another interesting wrinkle is the fatality decline.
What’s interesting, though, is that fatalities per mile often drop during a recession — and it’s dropped extra dramatically in this particular downturn. “This is the most profound departure from the general trend we’ve ever had,” said Darren Grant, an economist who studies traffic safety at Sam Houston State University (and who provided me with the chart above).I for one don't miss windshield time, and look forward to avoiding it strenuously in the future.
Grant notes that traffic-safety experts aren’t certain why people seem to drive more safely during a recession. One factor might be that people go out drinking less. But Grant offers up another theory: “It’s possible that it has something to do with how people value their time.” When the economy’s booming, the logic goes, people drive faster because they have places to be. That same principle might explain why people walk measurably faster in cities with high productivity, like, oh, Manhattan (although this is a complicated topic, see here for a fascinating discussion). [More]