Public interest journalist Stuart Silverstein at FairWarning.org has uncovered the fact that red states (defined as those that went for Mitt Romney in the last election) have higher traffic fatality rates than blue states (those that went for Barack Obama). The correlation is striking, Silverstein says, but he’s at a loss to explain it:
The 10 states with the highest fatality rates all were red, while all but one of the 10 lowest-fatality states were blue. What’s more, the place with the nation’s lowest fatality rate, while not a state, was the very blue District of Columbia.
Massachusetts was lowest among the states, with 4.79 road deaths per 100,000 people. By contrast, red Wyoming had a fatality rate of 27.46 per 100,000.
The numbers are based on 2010 fatality statistics from the NHTSA.
Silverstein asked a few sources to weigh in — including Thomas Frank, author of “What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,” and former federal auto safety researcher Louis V. Lombardo — but they couldn’t quite put their finger on what’s going on.
“It may be something we don’t have a definitive answer for,” Lombardo said.
“This is someplace where you would not expect to see a partisan divide,” Frank said.
I’m not nearly as smart as either of these guys, but I couldn’t help noticing that there are different travel patterns in the (mostly rural) red states and the (more urban) blue states. Perhaps that has something to do with it.