Search This Blog

Monday, April 26, 2010

More upside of the downturn

A few times since the recession began, I've noted some good news associated with the slowed economy. Reduced economic activity means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reduced traffic deaths. It might also put pressure on authoritarian regimes that have staked their legitimacy on growth -- such as China.

Of course, difficult economic times also have horrific human consequences, bringing unemployment to millions of people, worsening poverty, etc. On balance, even most radical anti-growth greens would prefer steady (sustainable) economic activity to painful contraction.

In any case, I saw another news item (NYT link) last week that served as another data point for the upside of the downturn. Motorcycle deaths are plunging:
Motorcycle deaths in the United States fell steeply last year, according to a new study.

After 11 straight years of increase, motorcycle traffic fatalities are projected to decline by at least 10 percent nationally in 2009, the Governors Highway Safety Association announced in a report [PDF] released on Thursday.
I realize this reduction in motorcycle deaths is merely a subset of traffic mortality rates, but the new data does appear to indicate a second year of reduced driving and death.

Indeed, it appears 2009 will have the lowest motorcycle fatality rate on record, and much of this is attributed to the decline in leisure travel related to the economy. In all, the GHSA press release noted that about 500 fewer people died in 2009 compared to 2008.
According to GHSA Chairman Vernon Betkey, “Clearly the economy played a large role in motorcycle deaths declining in 2009. Less disposable income translates into fewer leisure riders
Some of the reduced deaths were attributed to poor weather, which makes for undesirable motorbiking.

Moreover, the report also noted that some areas of the country experienced increased riding, partly because some people use motorcycles for transportation rather than cars or SUVs to avoid high fuel costs.

Visit this blog's homepage.

No comments:

Post a Comment