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Automobile Safety Regulation and the Incentive to Drive Recklessly: Evidence from NASCAR


  • Russell S. Sobel

    () (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

  • Todd M. Nesbit

    () (Sam and Irene Black School of Business, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College)


When safety regulation makes automobiles safer, drivers may drive more recklessly, partially or completely offsetting effects on the overall level of safety. Evidence of these offsetting effects has been hard to find, however, primarily because of the aggregate nature of accident data. In this paper we explore how changes in the safety of automobiles used in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has altered the incentive of drivers to drive recklessly. This unique data set allows more accurate and objective measurement of the necessary variables to test for these effects at a microlevel. Our results strongly support the presence of these offsetting behavioral effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell S. Sobel & Todd M. Nesbit, 2007. "Automobile Safety Regulation and the Incentive to Drive Recklessly: Evidence from NASCAR," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 71-84, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:74:1:y:2007:p:71-84

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Frick, Bernd & Humphreys, Brad, 2011. "Prize Structure and Performance: Evidence from NASCAR," Working Papers 2011-12, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    2. Michael Grimm & Carole Treibich, 2013. "Why Do Some Bikers Wear a Helmet and Others Don't? Evidence from Delhi, India," AMSE Working Papers 1348, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 10 Oct 2013.
    3. Gaudry, Marc & de Lapparent, Matthieu, 2013. "Part 3. Multivariate road safety models: Future research orientations and current use to forecast performance," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 38-56.
    4. Alberto Chong & Pascal Restrepo, 2011. "Peltzman on Ice: Evidence on Compensating Behavior Using a Natural Experiment from Ice Hockey," Working Papers 2011-12, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    5. Claudio Djissey Shikida & Guilherme de Castro & Ari Francisco de Araujo Jr., 2008. "Economic Determinants of Driver's Behavior in Minas Gerais," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 8(10), pages 1-7.
    6. Grimm, Michael & Treibich, Carole, 2016. "Why do some motorbike riders wear a helmet and others don’t? Evidence from Delhi, India," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 318-336.
    7. Bae, Yong-Kyun, 2011. "Primary Seat Belt Laws and Offsetting Behavior: Empirical Evidence from Individual Accident Data," MPRA Paper 30443, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Konrad Grabiszewski & Alex Horenstein, 2017. "Product-Consumer Substitution and Safety Regulation," Working Papers 2017-01, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    9. Bae, Yong-Kyun, 2013. "Primary Seat-Belt Laws and Driver Behavior: Evidence from Accident Data," MPRA Paper 49823, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Sep 2013.
    10. Potter Joel M, 2011. "Estimating the Offsetting Effects of Driver Behavior in Response to Safety Regulation: The Case of Formula One Racing," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 1-22, July.
    11. repec:eee:pubeco:v:151:y:2017:i:c:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Adam Pope & Robert Tollison, 2010. "“Rubbin’ is racin''': evidence of the Peltzman effect from NASCAR," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(3), pages 507-513, March.
    13. Chong, Alberto & Restrepo, Pascual, 2017. "Regulatory protective measures and risky behavior: Evidence from ice hockey," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 1-11.
    14. Konrad Grabiszewski & Alex Horenstein & Nicolo Bates, 2016. "Product-Consumer Substitution and Safety Regulation: Theory and Evidence from Simulation," Working Papers 2016-05, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    15. McCannon, Bryan C., 2009. "Do less-violent technologies result in less violence? A theoretical investigation applied to the use of tasers by law enforcement," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-36, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)


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