The impact of gasoline price changes on traffic safety: a time geography explanation

Recently Published:

  • Chi, Guangchi, Jeremy Porter, Arthur Cosby and David Levinson (2013) The impact of gasoline price changes on traffic safety: a time geography explanation. Journal of Transport Geography Volume 28, April 2013, pp. 1-11 [doi]

    The impact of gasoline price changes on traffic safety has received increasing attention in empirical studies. In this study, we use time geography to provide a theoretical framework for examining the effects of time-varying fluctuations in gasoline prices and their relationship to traffic safety in a case study of Mississippi from April 2004 to December 2010. Application of time geography theory suggests that gasoline prices act as one type of capability constraint of the space–time path. As gasoline prices increase (that is, as the capability constraint becomes stronger), we hypothesize traffic crash rates decrease, and they decrease more for groups for whom the constraint is stronger. The results corroborate the hypotheses and suggest that gasoline prices have stronger effects on reducing less severe crashes and negligible effects on reducing fatal crashes. Gasoline price effects on reducing crashes start at a 9-month lag, peak at a 12-month lag, and diminish after an 18-month lag.

As commentary, the recent increase in crashes this last year (2012 vs. 2011) as the effects of the recession wane (and the budgetary constraints on travel relax) provides corroborative evidence.