New Evidence on the Causal Impact of Traffic Safety Laws on Drunk Driving Fatalities

21 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2017 Last revised: 7 May 2018

See all articles by Nicholas Wright

Nicholas Wright

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

La-Troy Lee

The University of the West Indies

Date Written: November 11, 2017

Abstract

In the United States, about 28 lives are lost daily in motor vehicle accidents that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. While most states have enacted traffic-safety laws to address this phenomenon, little consensus exists on the causal impact of these laws in reducing drunk-driving fatalities. This paper exploits quasi-random variation in state-level laws to estimate the causal effect of select traffic laws on the frequency of fatal accidents involving a drunk driver. This is identified from the discontinuities in policy treatments among homogeneous contiguous-counties that are separated by a shared state border. This approach addresses the econometric issues created due to spatial heterogeneity that may have biased previous studies. We present convincing evidence that the estimates in the literature are prone to an upward bias. Further, if the effective laws were adopted as a federal mandate in 1986, they could have prevented about 24% of drunk-driving motor-vehicle fatalities.

Keywords: traffic-fatalities, drunk-driving, traffic safety legislation

JEL Classification: I1, I12, I18, R41

Suggested Citation

Wright, Nicholas and Lee, La-Troy, New Evidence on the Causal Impact of Traffic Safety Laws on Drunk Driving Fatalities (November 11, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3069811 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3069811

Nicholas Wright (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

La-Troy Lee

The University of the West Indies ( email )

St. Augustine
Cave Hill Campus
St Michael
Trinidad and Tobago

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
17
Abstract Views
301
PlumX Metrics