Location

Olympic Valley — Lake Tahoe, California

Date

28-6-2011

Session

NISSAN DISTINGUISHED KEYNOTE LECTURE

Abstract

The US presidential electoral process is remarkable for widespread spending, attention, conflict, and rhetoric. Whether the process has an immediate effect on public health has never been tested. Moreover, such a possibility rarely receives consideration when evaluating voter turnout statistics ranging around 50-60% of eligible Americans. We studied all US presidential elections for the last 32 years, beginning with Carter in 1976 and ending with Obama in 2008. For each election, we analyzed the national registry of fatal crashes in the US, along with the Tuesday immediately before and after to calculate expected numbers of individuals in fatal crashes for the nation at the time. Our main finding was that the average election leads to a 19% increase in the risk of a fatal crash during the hours of polling. This equaled about 24 people per election; was remarkably consistent across different ages and locations; and greatly exceeded the risk on New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, or the chance of casting a pivotal vote. We conclude that efforts to mobilize the population, along with America's reliance on motor vehicles, results in increased fatal crashes during US presidential elections. We suggest more safety advocacy by electioneers who encourage people to vote. Perhaps the US president, when elected in the aftermath of fatal crashes, might also give more thought to the 100 lives lost each day from crashes in the United States.

Rights

Copyright © 2011 the author(s)

DC Citation

Proceedings of the Sixth International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design, June 27-30, 2011, Olympic Valley — Lake Tahoe, California. Iowa City, IA: Public Policy Center, University of Iowa, 2011: 1-1.

Share

COinS
 
Jun 28th, 12:00 AM

Road Deaths and the Next U.S. Presidential Election

Olympic Valley — Lake Tahoe, California

The US presidential electoral process is remarkable for widespread spending, attention, conflict, and rhetoric. Whether the process has an immediate effect on public health has never been tested. Moreover, such a possibility rarely receives consideration when evaluating voter turnout statistics ranging around 50-60% of eligible Americans. We studied all US presidential elections for the last 32 years, beginning with Carter in 1976 and ending with Obama in 2008. For each election, we analyzed the national registry of fatal crashes in the US, along with the Tuesday immediately before and after to calculate expected numbers of individuals in fatal crashes for the nation at the time. Our main finding was that the average election leads to a 19% increase in the risk of a fatal crash during the hours of polling. This equaled about 24 people per election; was remarkably consistent across different ages and locations; and greatly exceeded the risk on New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, or the chance of casting a pivotal vote. We conclude that efforts to mobilize the population, along with America's reliance on motor vehicles, results in increased fatal crashes during US presidential elections. We suggest more safety advocacy by electioneers who encourage people to vote. Perhaps the US president, when elected in the aftermath of fatal crashes, might also give more thought to the 100 lives lost each day from crashes in the United States.