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Are High Gas Prices Leading to More Florida Automobile Accidents or Less?

In Florida as in other parts of the country, drivers are worried about increasing gas prices. However, some researchers are claiming that the gas price jump, painful though it is, could be making the streets safer. A research study at the University of Alabama concluded that every 10% increase in gas prices translates into a 2% decrease in traffic fatalities.

While about 40,000 people die in car accidents across the country each year, researchers expect that current high gas prices will mean as many as 1,000 fewer deaths per month, which may 12 000 lives saved this year. Researchers attribute the reduction in car accidents to the fact that fewer people are driving less often. They also claim that many try to save on gas by driving slower, which also reduces accidents.

Other experts are not so optimistic, however. They point out that while car accident fatalities are down slightly, as motorists turn to other means of transport, other types of fatalities and personal injuries are on the rise. The Motorcycle Industry Council notes that sales of motorcycles increase 24% in the first few months of 2008. Yamaha scooter sales increased by 65% from this time in 2007. Vespa set a sales record doubled its previous record this May.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that fatalities on motorcycles and scooters have increased 127% over the past decade. Serious injuries from scooter and motorcycle accidents – including spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, brain injuries, and broken limbs – are up too.

The National Highway Traffic Safety is reporting that a motorcyclist is 34 times more likely to die in collision with a vehicle than someone in car. Motorcycles are simply smaller and lighter than most cars and trucks and simply do not have much of a chance in a car collision. With more people driving SUVs and large cars, the motorcyclist’s chances are even slimmer.

If you do decide to get a motorcycle in order to save on gas, be sure to wear a helmet to protect yourself from fatal brain injuries. Statistics prove how important helmets are. Florida repealed its helmet law in 2002 and the first 30 months after that decision, authorities reported 40% more hospitalizations and 24% more fatalities when compared with the 30 months before the law was repealed.

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