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Are Drivers of Air-Bag-Equipped Cars More Aggressive? A Test of the Offsetting Behavior Hypothesis

Listed author(s):
  • Peterson, Steven
  • Hoffer, George
  • Millner, Edward

An increasing number of researchers have hypothesized that regulatory attempts to improve automotive safety through product design would be at least partially offset by driver behavioral changes. This article analyzes two independent data sets to test whether differences in driver behavior exist between cars equipped with air bags and those not so equipped. An analysis of an insurance industry generated data set reveals that relative injury claims increase following adoption of an air bag system. Since there is no indication that the increase diminishes over time, the results appear to be attributable to offsetting behavior as opposed to a sorting of auto buyers. Analyses of 1993 Virginia State Police accident reports indicate that air-bag-equipped cars tend to be driven more aggressively and that aggressiveness appears to offset the effect of the air bag for the driver and increases the risk of death to others. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467331
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 38 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 251-264

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:38:y:1995:i:2:p:251-64
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Crandall, Robert W & Keeler, Theodore E & Lave, Lester B, 1982. "The Cost of Automobile Safety and Emissions Regulation to the Consumer: Some Preliminary Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 324-327, May.
  2. Keeler, Theodore E, 1994. "Highway Safety, Economic Behavior, and Driving Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 684-693, June.
  3. Crandall, Robert W & Graham, John D, 1989. "The Effect of Fuel Economy Standards on Automobile Safety," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 97-118, April.
  4. John D. Graham & Steven Garber, 1984. "Evaluating the effects of automobile safety regulation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 3(2), pages 206-224.
  5. Robert S. Chirinko & Edward P. Harper, 1993. "Buckle up or slow down? New estimates of offsetting behavior and their implications for automobile safety regulation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 270-296.
  6. Winston, Clifford & Mannering, Fred, 1984. "Consumer Demand for Automobile Safety," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 316-319, May.
  7. 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 328-331, May.
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