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Motorcycle fatalities among out-of-state riders and the role of universal helmet laws

Author

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  • French, Michael T.
  • Gumus, Gulcin
  • Homer, Jenny F.

Abstract

Several studies have demonstrated that universal helmet laws (UHLs) and other motor vehicle policies are effective in reducing fatal and non-fatal motorcycle injuries. Although state policies can improve traffic safety overall, very little is known about how they affect different segments of motorcycle riders. In this paper, we investigate the differential effectiveness of such policies by license state of the rider (i.e., in-state versus out-of-state). From a policy perspective, this information gap is noteworthy because variations in state regulations may influence where individuals choose to ride. We use state-level longitudinal (1988–2008) data on motorcycle fatalities in the United States from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Our results reconfirm the effectiveness of UHLs and offer new evidence suggesting that states without such policies may attract more risky riders from out-of-state. In particular, not having a UHL increases out-of-state rider fatalities by 18 percent and this effect is more pronounced for out-of-state riders who reside in a UHL state. These findings have important implications regarding unintended spillover effects of state-specific motor vehicle policies.

Suggested Citation

  • French, Michael T. & Gumus, Gulcin & Homer, Jenny F., 2012. "Motorcycle fatalities among out-of-state riders and the role of universal helmet laws," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(10), pages 1855-1863.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:10:p:1855-1863
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.06.022
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
    2. Donald Kenkel & Steven Koch, 2001. "Deterrence and knowledge of the law: The case of drunk driving," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(7), pages 845-854.
    3. French, Michael T. & Gumus, Gulcin & Homer, Jenny F., 2009. "Public policies and motorcycle safety," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 831-838, July.
    4. Dee, Thomas S., 2009. "Motorcycle helmets and traffic safety," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 398-412, March.
    5. Donald G. Freeman, 2007. "Drunk Driving Legislation And Traffic Fatalities: New Evidence On Bac 08 Laws," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(3), pages 293-308, July.
    6. Sass, Tim R & Zimmerman, Paul R, 2000. "Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Motorcyclist Fatalities," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 195-215, November.
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    9. Daniel Eisenberg, 2003. "Evaluating the effectiveness of policies related to drunk driving," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 249-274.
    10. Michael A. Morrisey & David C. Grabowski, 2005. "State motor vehicle laws and older drivers," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 407-419.
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    12. Thomas S Dee, 2001. "Does setting limits save lives? The case of 0.08 BAC laws," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 111-128.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    United States; Motorcycle fatalities; Helmet laws; Out-of-state riders;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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