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Mississippi Study Shows Car Crashes Decrease as Gas Prices Go Up

When gas prices go up, the number of car crashes decreases, according to a recent Mississippi study. So believe it or not, there is actually something beneficial about the skyrocketing gas prices you have been enduring for the past several months. Mississippi State University's Social Research Center reviewed car accidents and gasoline prices in Mississippi between 2004 and 2008. The results? Author Guangqing Chi, an associate professor of sociology at Mississippi State, stated, "The results suggest that prices have both short-term and intermediate-term effects on reducing car accidents." Rising gas prices make the number of crashes go down. The study was recently published in the Journal of Safety Research and Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Gas prices affected younger drivers more on a short-term basis (defined as increased gas prices affecting crashes over the course of one month), probably because younger drivers feel the pinch at the pump more quickly than their older cohorts. A college student subsisting on a job at the bookstore and help from home has much less disposable income than an established adult worker. Younger drivers may also have more alternatives available such as public transportation. Older drivers and men were affected in the intermediate term, which was defined as having effects over one year after the price increase.

Gas Prices Also Impact Alcohol Related Accidents

The research showed another unexpected benefit to high gas prices. Apparently high gas prices have significant connections to lowered alcohol-related accidents. According to one of the study's authors, this is the first research showing a relationship between gas prices and fewer drunk-driving crashes. Some research had been previously performed on the connection between gas prices and motor-vehicle-related deaths. Whether the higher gas prices caused drivers to forego driving or alcohol was not reported.

So the next time you are at your local gas station mumbling to yourself about the high price of gas, remember that there is a silver lining. Those high prices apparently are keeping people off the road. Some of these people are drunk drivers. Fewer people mean fewer motor vehicle accidents. Then go back to grumbling about the high gas prices.