Every year, about 40,000 people die in traffic accidents in the U.S. If you are age 5 through 34, you are more likely to die this way than any other way. Ordinary things we do or don't do have extraordinary consequences. We know that higher gas prices cause many of us to slow down and drive less which means fewer people die. Early research into 2006 accident data suggests that many lives have already been spared. If gas remains at $4 per gal. for a year or more, expect as many as 1,000 fewer fatalities a month, according to professor Michael Morrisey at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and associate professor David Grabowski at Harvard Medical School, who calculated that estimate for TIME. That means annual deaths could be cut by almost one-third a public-health triumph.
With reporting by Maya Curry