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Buckle-Up or Slow-Down? New Estimates of Offsetting Behavior and Their Implications for Automobile Safety Regulation

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Author Info

  • Robert S. Chirinko
  • Edward P. Harper, Jr.

Abstract

This study provides a detailed examination of the determinants of motor vehicle fatalities, and offers a new assessment of the effects of automobile safety regulation. An empirical analysis is made difficult because drivers are unlikely to remain passive in the face of changes in their safety environment. This offsetting behavior hypothesis is cast in a broad framework that brings together elements from the economics and cognition literatures. This approach allows us to highlight key maintained assumptions in previous analyses and to consider how econometric evidence can inform discussions about highway safety policy. The econometric estimates reveal that, while imprecisely estimated, offsetting behavior is quantitatively important, and attenuates the effects of safety regulation on total motor vehicle fatalities. Cognitive elements and the functional form of the estimating equation are shown to play prominent roles in the analysis of safety regulation. Our estimates imply that current highway policy initiatives -- mandating restraint systems and relaxing restrictions on the maximum speed limit -- are likely to have only a modest net effect on reducing motor vehicle fatalities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 9207.

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Date of creation: May 1992
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Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:9207

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Related research

Keywords: motor vehicles; traffic fatalities; highway safety policy;

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References

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  1. Machina, Mark J, 1987. "Choice under Uncertainty: Problems Solved and Unsolved," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 121-54, Summer.
  2. Layson, Stephen K & Seaks, Terry G, 1984. "Estimation and Testing for Functional Form in First Difference Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(2), pages 338-43, May.
  3. Blomquist, Glenn C, 1979. "Value of Life Saving: Implications of Consumption Activity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 540-58, June.
  4. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
  5. Crandall, Robert W & Graham, John D, 1984. "Automobile Safety Regulation and Offsetting Behavior: Some New Empirical Estimates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 328-31, May.
  6. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  7. V. Kerry Smith & William H. Desvousges & F. Reed Johnson & Ann Fisher, 1990. "Can public information programs affect risk perceptions?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 41-59.
  8. Cornell, N. & Noll, Roger G. & Weingast, B., . "Safety Regulation," Working Papers 122, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  9. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1982. "Risk Perception in Psychology and Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(1), pages 1-9, January.
  10. Colin F. Camerer & Howard Kunreuther, 1989. "Decision processes for low probability events: Policy implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 565-592.
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Cited by:
  1. Maheshri, Vikram & Mannering, Fred & Winston, Clifford, 2006. "An Exploration of the Offset Hypothesis Using Disaggregate Data:The Case of Airbags and Antilock Brakes," Working paper 155, Regulation2point0.
  2. Michael Grimm & Carole Treibich, 2013. "Why Do Some Bikers Wear a Helmet and Others Don't? Evidence from Delhi, India," Working Papers halshs-00871749, HAL.
  3. Heather E. Campbell, 1996. "The politics of requesting: Strategic behavior and public utility regulation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(3), pages 395-423.
  4. Dickie, M. & Gerking, S.D., 1997. "Genetic risk factors and offsetting behavior: The case of skin cancer," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4742874, Tilburg University.
  5. Anindya Sen & Brent Mizzen, 2007. "Estimating the Impact of Seat Belt Use on Traffic Fatalities: Empirical Evidence from Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 33(3), pages 315-336, September.

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