Objective Economic factors such as rising gasoline prices may contribute to the crash trends by shaping individuals’ choices of transportation modalities. This study examines the relationship of gasoline prices with fatal and non-fatal motorcycle injuries.
Methods Data on fatal and non-fatal motorcycle injuries come from California's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System for 2002–2011. Autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) regressions were used to estimate the impact of inflation-adjusted gasoline price per gallon on trends of motorcycle injuries.
Results Motorcycle fatalities and severe and minor injuries in California were highly correlated with increasing gasoline prices from 2002 to 2011 (r=0.76, 0.88 and 0.85, respectively). In 2008, the number of fatalities and injuries reached 13 457—a 34% increase since 2002, a time period in which inflation-adjusted gasoline prices increased about $0.30 per gallon every year. The majority of motorcycle riders involved in crashes were male (92.5%), middle-aged (46.2%) and non-Hispanic white (67.9%). Using ARIMA modelling, we estimated that rising gasoline prices resulted in an additional 800 fatalities and 10 290 injuries from 2002 to 2011 in California.
Conclusions Our findings suggest that increasing gasoline prices led to more motorcycle riders on the roads and, consequently, more injuries. Aside from mandatory helmet laws and their enforcement, other strategies may include raising risk awareness of motorcyclists and investment in public transportation as an alternative transportation modality to motorcycling. In addition, universally mandated training courses and strict licensing tests of riding skills should be emphasised to help reduce the motorcycle fatal and non-fatal injuries.
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