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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Will new screening technologies increase deaths?

The last line from this story:
"The Orlando International Airport officials suggest travelers arrive at least two hours before their flight."

This increase in the amount of time it takes to fly (remember it used to be 'get to the airport one hour before your flight') will likely make driving more appealing to many. This is on top of the fact that the new technology might be viewed as too intrusive for comfort.

The upshot is that if the new technologies and screening processes at the airport make more people drive and thus these people are taking more dangerous modes of transportation on a per-mile traveled basis, more people could end up dying or injured because of the substitution effect created by the increased time it takes to fly.

This would make an interesting master's thesis - whether there are more automobile fatalities, injuries, accidents, this holiday traveling season, all else equal, because of the new technologies. The only problem I see empirically is that the entire U.S. traveling public has been impacted by the new screening processes so it would be hard to find the control group. Perhaps you could use accidents on roads between cities/towns where there are no major airports versus roads between cities/towns that do?

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