TORONTO — A study has found that each hour spent driving in North America leads to about a 20-minute loss in life expectancy for the average driver due to the risk of a fatal crash.
Researchers say that slowing down by just three kilometres per hour would cost the average driver about three minutes a day in trip time, but save about three hours in overall survival per year.
Lead investigator Dr. Donald Redelmeier of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto says that applied at the population level, even a three kilometres per hour reduction could provide a huge benefit.
He says that in the United States, for example, the slower speed would translate into about three million fewer crashes causing property damage, one million fewer crashes causing injury and 9,000 fewer deaths each year.
The researchers used U.S. driving data and computerized modelling to come up with estimates for crash-related reductions in life expectancy.
Redelmeier says strategies such as photo-radar, traffic-calming programs and street racing crackdowns could cut traffic deaths as well as the number of people left with lifelong disability.