NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 14, 2009

If you want to know how many people are killed in car accidents in a particular U.S. state, look to its prisons.  Regions with higher murder rates also tend to have a greater number of traffic fatalities, according to a new analysis of government data published in the scientific journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

For instance:

  • A state's homicide rate in 2006 predicted its traffic fatalities better than nine other well-known factors -- including how likely residents were to wear their seatbelts or to drive drunk.
  • This is not because more killers are taking the wheel or more drivers are using their vehicles as murder weapons.

The connection is due to the fact that some populations are more violent and aggressive than others, and this aggression leads both to dangerous driving and to a higher murder rate, says Michael Sivak, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The finding is consistent with the notion that social aspects of human interactions play an important role in traffic safety, explains Sivak.

The data builds on a previous study of census data from 1977 and 1978 that also found a connection between homicides and traffic fatalities.

Source: Report, "Study Shows State's Homicide Rate Predicted its Traffic Fatalities," FOXNews, December 3, 2009.

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