The price of gasoline has dropped significantly in the past few months, and experts say they expect it to continue to decline, or at least stay relatively the same. With the average price of gasoline projected to be only $1.98 across the nation in 2016, the lowest it has been since 2009, the average American household is expected to save an estimated $320 compared to 2015, and around $1000 compared to two years ago. Lower gas prices may seem like great news to American consumers, but like with almost everything these days, there is a downside.
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The rapid decline in gas prices has juiced up the economy just enough that America’s roadways are seeing an increased numbers of motorists each day- many of whom are driving larger, newer vehicles. As millions of individuals make decisions to enjoy those extra road trips, forego carpools and public transportation and take the few extra miles that come with a scenic route on their way to work, unfamiliar roads, more traffic congestion, and unfamiliar vehicles are destined to result in an increased number of motor vehicle accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the past few years have seen an average of 30,000 traffic fatalities in the United States, but that number is on the rise. Preliminary results from a study that is currently being conducted on the impact that the recent gas price plunge has on traffic deaths reveals that for every dollar Americans save at the pump, there is an 11 percent increase in traffic fatalities. In other words, a simple $1 savings can result in approximately 3,000 additional roadway deaths.
Fortunately, there is one factor that could very possibly be in favor of traveling motorists as gas prices fall- safer vehicles. As the United States economy continues to improve with lower gas prices, and more Americans purchase newer vehicles with advanced safety features, those motorists who are involved in traffic accidents are less likely to suffer from severe or fatal injuries. In fact, there are currently nine 2011 model vehicles on the road with a driver fatality rate of zero. Researchers say that advances in vehicle design, as well as innovative features like rear view cameras and electronic stability control are helping American motorists stay safe. Even still, drivers are encouraged to beware of the ever increasing number of motorists they share the roads with.