Maine Car Accident Attorney Joe Bornstein Weighs in on Report about Link Between Low Gas Prices and Road Fatalities

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The lead attorney at the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein noted that drivers should be aware that the roads may be more dangerous when prices are low at the pump.

What people might not realize is that the research finds that drivers are more cautious when gas prices are high. They tend to step on the accelerator lightly and brake cautiously.

When gasoline prices drop, the number of traffic fatalities goes up, according to research that Maine personal injury attorney Joe Bornstein says should serve as a reminder to drive cautiously and defensively.

Commenting on an online report in Money Magazine about the findings, attorney Bornstein of the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein said drivers also should be aware of the factors that researchers say can lead to accidents when gasoline prices are low. (Money, Jan. 8, 2015, “How Cheap Gas Can Be Deadly”)

“It’s not a surprise to find out that when prices are low, more people drive. When more cars are on the road, the risk of accidents increases,” Bornstein said. “What people might not realize is that the research finds that drivers are more cautious when gas prices are high. They tend to step on the accelerator lightly and brake cautiously. These types of behaviors that people engage in to save gas are the same techniques that help reduce the risk of car accidents. Even though gas prices are low right now, it’s important to maintain safe driving habits.”

Bornstein offered the following safe driving tips, which can apply regardless of the price of gas:

  •     Don’t aggressively drive your car by mashing down the accelerator or coming to a sudden stop.
  •     Try to combine your trips into one rather than use your car several times during the day.
  •     Know that other drivers can be unpredictable, so keep a safe distance between your car and the other driver’s vehicle.
  •     Avoid distractions such as cell phones while driving.
  •     Avoid driving while tired and never drive after drinking.

According to a Jan. 8, 2015, article in the Oregonian, the number of fatal accidents in Oregon increased by nearly 13 percent in 2014 (Oregonian, “Oregon traffic deaths jumped 13 percent in 2014. Are low gas prices to blame?”). Preliminary data reveals that 352 people died in traffic accidents last year. By comparison, 313 died in car wrecks in 2013. The Oregonian report attributed the jump in deadly car accidents to the fact that more people were driving as a result of lower gas prices.

Sociologist Guangqing Chi of South Dakota State University told NPR on Jan. 6, 2015, that a 20-cent drop in gas prices in Minnesota translated to 15 deaths in one year (NPR: “The Downside of Cheaper Gas: More Accident Fatalities”). If gasoline prices drop by $2, that could mean an additional 9,000 highway fatalities per year in the United States.

While the research yields interesting results, Money Magazine notes that there is no direct causation. Some states, including Maine, have reported decreases in fatalities corresponding to a drop in gasoline prices. Maine state officials called 2014 one of the safest years for motorists since World War II, according to the Bangor Daily News on Jan. 12, 2015 (“Road deaths at 70-year low in Maine”). The newspaper reported that preliminary data shows there were 130 fatalities in 2014, which is down from 144 road deaths in 2013.

Director of Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Lauren Stewart told the Bangor Daily News that no one factor is linked to the decrease in fatalities, but she cited education as one of the key reasons for the drop.

Attorney Bornstein added: “The report about Maine is certainly good news, but that shouldn’t give drivers a free pass to engage in dangerous behavior – especially in light of the study about cheap gas and accident fatalities. We support Maine’s efforts to educate kids in schools, and we’re now in the 11th year of our Arrive Alive Creative Contest which asks high school seniors to come up with a creative message about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as distracted driving. In the past 10 years, our law firm has given away over $85,000 in prizes to teenagers who have helped send the message to their peers, “Stay Safe and Arrive Alive!”

Bornstein said people who are injured or lose loved ones in accidents should understand their rights. He said attorneys offer free case consultations and may be able to help victims and families recover compensation for their losses.

About the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein
Since 1974, attorney Joe Bornstein and his experienced legal team have represented over 22,000 Mainers and have given these clients much-needed access to justice in their injury and disability claims. The law firm has a statewide practice with six conveniently located offices in Maine. Joe and his staff of over 65 legal professional have met with Mainers in hospital rooms and living rooms – and, other locations convenient to the clients – throughout the state of Maine. Joe’s law firm has collected over $200 million in settlements and benefits for injured and disabled clients.

The attorneys work on all types of personal injury claims, including auto accidents, construction site accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, dog bite injuries, premises liability claims, product liability claims, and the like. The firm also has a team of lawyers and legal professionals who represent clients in their Social Security Disability claims. The firm can also give assistance in veterans’ disability claims, maritime and admiralty claims/injuries at sea, medical malpractice claims and workers’ compensation claims. Bornstein and his staff have a well-deserved reputation as one of Maine’s best-known and successful law firms.

The main office for the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is located at 5 Moulton Street, Portland, ME 04101. To schedule a free case evaluation or for more information, call (207) 772-4624 or visit our website at http://www.joebornstein.com

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