Gas prices have another silver lining

Monday, July 14, 2008

We've discussed how high gas prices can a silver lining in the form of efficiency and more exercise, but AAA Nebraska has pointed out a new, even better result.

Highway fatalities are down 26 percent in Nebraska for the first three months of the year over the same time last year.

There were 97 deaths this year; the last time fatalities were near this level was back in 1949.

The decline becomes all the more striking when one considers that there were only 717,000 vehicles registered in the Cornhusker state 59 years ago, compared to three times that many today, more than 2.1 million vehicles.

AAA attributes the decline to higher fuel prices and an increase in safety belt use, as well as drivers tending to avoid aggresssive and dangerous driving behaviors that waste fuel, such as hard stops and fast acceleration.

More people are using safety belts as well.

We tend to agree; anything to reduce the speed of 18-wheelers and other traffic on Interstate 80 has to be good for traffic safety. Tougher laws against driving while intoxicated and increased traffic enforcement, such as that done by the Nebraska State Patrol over the Fourth of July and other major holidays, can only help save lives.

Ninety seven deaths is an improvement, yes, but even one traffic fatality is too many. Let's keep up the good work, and make the next half a year even better.

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