Less driving linked to a decrease in roadway fatalities
Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 9 : To cut down the number of traffic fatalities, drive less!Researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US found a significant decrease in automobile travel is linked to decline in the number of traffic-related deaths, especially among young men.
The findings, published in the journal of Preventive Medicine, also revealed that at the same time, there was no increase in how active Americans were, meaning physical activity did not replace driving for many people.
Noreen McDonald wanted to analyse how the decline in driving time had affected two key areas: changes in physical activity and number of motor vehicle fatalities.
She found that while less driving did mean a decrease in deaths, it did not have an impact on activity levels.
Between 2004 and 2014, per-capita driving shrank by nearly 600 miles annually.
Young adults, millennials born in the 1980s and early 1990s, saw the largest decline.
"My analysis shows a drop in automobile travel from 2003 to 2014 with the largest decreases among young adults, particularly men," explained Dr. McDonald.
The study also found that auto travel decreased by 9.2 minutes per day from 2003-2014 and men aged 20-29 years saw the largest drop.
Consequently, motor vehicle fatalities showed significant declines among young men, but also across all ages.
"Fatalities to motor vehicle occupants dropped significantly during the study period, particularly among millennials," Dr. McDonald stated.
"Safer cars and better driving training could explain this decline, but the decrease could also be explained by the large and significant drop in driving. The challenge that we must all now work towards is how to maintain the safety record on American roads as population growth, low gas prices and an improving economy lead to more travel," Dr. McDonald noted.