One of the most important achievements of auto safety experts across the last decades has been the substantial decline in car crash deaths and the overall reduction of serious personal injuries. Some of this has been the result of vehicular safety equipment improvements, some as a result of public education on the need to employ safety belts and of course more vigilant law enforcement of drunk driving laws.
However, a disturbing new study has emerged correlating education and motor vehicle crash death figures. Very simply, victims of major auto accidents are far more likely to die if they lack a high school diploma. The study from the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that while car accident fatalities overall have been in a steady decline for years, the death rate for less educated members of our society have gone up.
Since 1995 car crash deaths for victims without high school diplomas has skyrocketed.
Obviously the question is why?
The answers are numerous and not entirely clear but factors that are thought to play a role include the fact that less highly educated drivers statistically earn less income and as a result are more likely to own older cars with less modern safety equipment, that these individuals tend to live in poorer neighborhoods with fewer crosswalks and traffic calming features and that trauma centers are less available in poorer neighborhoods.
The bottom-line higher education doesn't make you a better driver but it can put you in a safer car, in a safer neighborhood, where if a major crash happens you are more likely to get to a trauma center faster.