Understanding the Decline in Drinking and Driving During 'The Other Great Moderation'
54 Pages Posted: 3 May 2010 Last revised: 16 Aug 2019
Date Written: October 16, 2012
We show that the dynamics of drinking and driving can be adequately described using simply the fraction of accidents involving drinking drivers. Evaluating drunk driving legislation using this measure instead of traffic fatalities implicitly controls for unobservable “general risk” influences on traffic safety, improving estimates of laws’ effects and allowing estimation on microdata that incorporates individual-level controls. Using this approach, we can decompose the sizeable post-1970s decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities into components associated with each major influence that has been identified in the literature–including unobservable “social forces.” We find that the widespread enactment of seven key drunk driving laws explains only one-fifth of the reduction in drinking and driving since 1982, comparable to the effects of demographics and alcohol consumption, and less than that of social forces.
Keywords: Drunk Driving, Traffic Safety Legislation, Panel Data Analysis
JEL Classification: I18, K14, N42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation