Do Seat Belt Laws Still Work? Replication and Re-Evaluation of Recent Evidence

21 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2016  

Sam Harper

McGill University - Epidemiology, Biostatistics, & Occupational Health

Erin Strumpf

McGill University - Department of Economics; McGill University - Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health

Date Written: September 25, 2015

Abstract

Recent work suggests that mandatory seatbelt laws are associated with lower motor vehicle accident mortality, but it is unclear whether this is due to increased enforcement. We study this association using 2001-2010 US data on traffic fatalities among individuals ages 10 and over and we test the robustness of unstated assumptions by replicating and extending prior work. Using Poisson regression adjusted for state-level traffic safety policies (seat belt laws, blood alcohol laws, speed limits), miles traveled, and median income, we replicate the covariate-adjusted association seen in prior work (Rate Ratio [RR]=0.80, 95%CI 0.74,0.87). Further adjustment for state and time fixed effects showed no evidence of a causal effect (RR=1.00, 95%CI 0.95,1.06). We find little evidence that seatbelt laws reduce traffic fatalities, and prior work was confounded by general improvements in other environmental determinants of motor vehicle accident mortality. Replications studies have the potential to increase the integrity of research findings.

Keywords: motor vehicle crashes, replication, mandatory seat belt laws, United States

Suggested Citation

Harper, Sam and Strumpf, Erin, Do Seat Belt Laws Still Work? Replication and Re-Evaluation of Recent Evidence (September 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2120649 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2120649

Sam Harper (Contact Author)

McGill University - Epidemiology, Biostatistics, & Occupational Health ( email )

1020 Pine Avenue West
Montreal, QC H3A 1A2
Canada
+1 (514) 398-2856 (Phone)
+1 (514) 398-4503 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/epidemiology/harper

Erin Strumpf

McGill University - Department of Economics ( email )

855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 2T7
CANADA

McGill University - Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health ( email )

Montreal
United States

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