PurposeMotivated by the news media and a lack of comprehensive research on the USA, the purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between changes in road fatalities and gasoline prices, per capita disposable personal income, alcohol consumption per adult, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits and gender.Design/methodology/approachThis study employs both static and dynamic panel data models, making use of annual data over the 2000–2013 period collected from the 50 states of the USA and the consistent system GMM estimators of the parameters, to estimate the impact of these variables on fatalities per 100,000 persons and per 100,000 vehicles.FindingsThe results highlight the importance of gasoline prices in determining the level of road fatalities, underscoring that a 10 percent decrease in gasoline prices leads to a 248 increase in the total number of road fatalities, but with many more injuries. Increases in the female-to-total driver ratio have a greater significant positive impact on road fatalities where a 10 percent increase in this ratio increases road fatalities by 1,008 deaths. Increases in registered vehicles per capita also increase the number of fatalities. Other variables such as alcohol consumption per adult and BAC limits are not as important. Policy implications are also provided.Research limitations/implicationsThe results of this study highlight the importance of gasoline prices in determining the number of road fatalities. This factor can be an effective policy measure by which policymakers can offset increases in fatalities due to further drastic declines in future gasoline prices. But the effects of the gasoline prices in determining the number of road fatalities are not as strong as the media would lead us to believe. The media ignores the impact of other factors on fatalities, which results in an overestimation of the impact of gasoline prices.Originality/valueThis study uses the panel data of 50 US states and the dynamic panel data model. In addition to gasoline price effects on the road fatalities, this study also considers other factors such as gender, gasoline taxes, per capita disposable personal income, per capita alcohol consumption, BAC limits and number of registered vehicles.
Journal of Economic Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 2, 2019