Monday, July 14, 2008

Benefits of higher gasoline prices

Like Brian says, always look at the bright side of life.
With public transit use nationally at a 50-year high, traffic dropped 2.1% in the first four months of this year across the country. That mileage reduction -- along with people driving smaller cars, and more slowly, to save gas -- could mean that 12,000 fewer people will die in traffic accidents this year, according to a study by professors Michael Morrisey at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and David C. Grabowski at Harvard Medical School. Air pollution has been reduced enough, according to UC Davis economics professor J. Paul Leigh, to prevent 2,200 respiratory-related deaths over the last year. Less eating out and more walking and biking could mean a 10% reduction in obesity, according to Charles Courtemanche, an assistant economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. And, apparently, higher gas prices also keep econ professors employed.
Read more in the Los Angeles Times: "The Joy of $8 gas."

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal takes another look at the old national 55 mph speed limit. While Pelosi asks Bush to open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and Democratic lawmakers are now joining Republicans writing up bills to open up drilling in Alaska and offshore, Senator John Warner (R-Va) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy and the GAO asking them to look at dropping the speed limit as part of the debate on an energy policy. The WSJ also looks at other impacts of speeding besides energy costs: a $40.4 billion cost to society (way more than those bicycling scofflaws who run lights and ride without helmets!) and 13,000 fatalities, according to the NHTSA.

Back to Los Angeles: the importance of reporting road harassment to the police.

As usual, thanks to Jack for the WSJ article!


  1. your WSJ link actually links to the LA Times article....

    Once fixed feel free to delete this post!

  2. Thanks for that, Anon. Fixed now. That's what I get for writing blog posts on the bus!

  3. "...dropping the speed limit as part of the debate on an energy policy."
    Does that mean lowering the speed limit as part of the debate, or does that mean not including the speed limit in the debate on an energy policy?

  4. Warner (who is retiring and doesn't need to worry about re-election) wants to look at lowering the speed limit. You're right that "dropping" is confusing.

  5. Ah, now that I have the correct link, I see that it was the former: that the senator was in favor of lowering the national speed limit. I can see strong opposition to that, but not, obviously, from those of us who average under 20 mph.