Getty Images / Joe Raedle

More Traffic Deaths Linked To Lower Gas Prices

A researcher found as gas prices decrease the number of traffic crashes and fatalities increase.

By Katherine Biek | January 7, 2015

People throughout the U.S. have been celebrating dramatic decreases in gas prices for the past few weeks. 

But it turns out there's a downside to cheap gas that many might not have considered: As gas prices decrease, the number of traffic crashes and fatalities increase.

A sociology professor from South Dakota State University spoke with NPR about this relationship he's been studying. 

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"A $2 drop in gasoline price can translate to about 9,000 road fatalities per year in the U.S.," Guangqing Chi said

Now, that's a pretty extreme example, since the U.S. hasn't seen a $2 drop in gas yet. 

In a more relatable situation, the professor told NPR that in Minnesota, a 20-cent decrease in gas prices was associated with 15 more traffic fatalities per year, according to his research. 

The reasoning behind this correlation is fairly simple: People tend to drive more when gas is less expensive.

"I've probably definitely been driving more myself," one driver told WFTS

Researchers have also found people drive more carefully when gas costs more, simply to save on fuel. 

According to AAA, accelerating gradually, driving the speed limit and giving yourself enough time to stop at a red light all save on gas. Of course, all these things also make you a safer driver. 

Currently, the average national gas price is around $2.19. A year ago, the average national price was $3.31.

And analysts recently told the International Business Times they're predicting gas will continue dropping for at least the next six months. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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