Economic Recovery Could Mean Disaster for Highway Safety

The authors of a new book have an interesting question to ask – Will any recovery of the American economy lead to a reverse of the current trend of declining traffic accident fatalities?

It is an intriguing question, and there are several signs that do indicate that as the economy begins to recover- as it has been showing some signs of doing recently – the number of people being killed in traffic accident fatalities could begin to increase again.  That could negate much of the progress that has been made in reducing highway accident numbers.

There has been reduced manufacturing activity since the recession began, and consequently a drop in freight shipments and fewer trucks on the highway.  A reduction in truck numbers automatically means a reduction in accident-related fatalities because truck accidents have a greater chance of ending in fatalities, compared to auto accidents.

Besides, when the economy is down, people tend to drop plans for recreational travel. Motorcyclists are less likely to ride recreationally and are less likely to invest in new motorcycles.  All of this means fewer vehicles on the road, and consequently lower accident risks.

On the other hand, when an economy begins to recover, motorists show their confidence by going back to their old driving practices, spending more on gas, and driving for leisure.  That would not have been a priority during the bad times.  This automatically means higher numbers of vehicles, and a greater chance of being involved in accidents.

Some of the findings of the report do seem to be reflected in new data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which show that traffic accident fatality numbers in the first half of 2012 are higher than the numbers in 2011.