Sunday, July 13, 2008

MEANWHILE, IN THE DEPARTMENT OF IRRELEVANT STATISTICS . . .

Study: As gas prices go up, auto deaths drop
By JOAN LOWY The Associated Press Saturday, July 12, 2008; 1:33 AM
WASHINGTON -- High gas prices could turn out to be a lifesaver for some drivers. The authors of a new study say gas prices are causing driving declines that could result in a third fewer auto deaths annually, with the most dramatic drop likely to be among teen drivers.
Professors Michael Morrisey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and David Grabowski of Harvard Medical School said they found that for every 10 percent increase in gas prices there was a 2.3 percent decline in auto deaths. For drivers ages 15 to 17, the decline was 6 percent, and for ages 18 to 21, it was 3.2 percent.
Their study looked at fatalities from 1985 to 2006, when gas prices reached about $2.50 a gallon.
With gas now averaging more than $4 a gallon, Morrisey said he expects to see much greater drop _ about 1,000 deaths a month.
. . . Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said it makes sense that auto deaths would decline as driving decreases in response to rising gas prices.
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Well, let's hear it for Clarence Ditlow for stating the obvious.
Who funds this stuff? Who actually pays professors to team up from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School to tell us what any kid on a playground would deduce--then publish it for cutting-edge publications like the Washington Post to excitedly offer their readers? Morrison and Grabowski actually presented their findings to a meeting of the American Society of Health Economists in Raleigh-Durham.
Must have caused a stir. I can imagine reporters racing to beat deadlines with that earth-shaking news. Can studies proving the cost-saving aspects of riding a bicycle to work be far behind?
The article goes on to say that the study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So, there you have it. Their next Johnson Foundation study will no doubt provide a paper that suggests showering daily reduces the incidence of body-odor on public transportation.