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The Effect of Automobile Insurance and Accident Liability Laws on Traffic Fatalities

  • Cohen, Alma
  • Dehejia, Rajeev

This paper investigates the incentive effects of automobile insurance, compulsory insurance laws, and no-fault liability laws on driver behavior and traffic fatalities. We analyze a panel of 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia for 1970-98, a period in which many states adopted compulsory insurance regulations and/or no-fault laws. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find evidence that automobile insurance has moral hazard costs, leading to an increase in traffic fatalities. We also find that reductions in accident liability produced by no-fault liability laws have led to an increase in traffic fatalities (estimated to be on the order of 6 percent). Overall, our results indicate that, whatever other benefits they might produce, increases in the incidence of automobile insurance and moves to no-fault liability systems have significant negative effects on traffic fatalities.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 47 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 357-93

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2004:v:47:i:2:p:357-93
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Aaron S. Edlin & Pinar Karaca-Mandic, 2004. "The Accident Externality from Driving," Public Economics 0401003, EconWPA.
  2. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. J. David Cummins & Mary A. Weiss & Richard D. Phillips, 1999. "The Incentive Effects of No Fault Automobile Insurance," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-38, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Landes, Elisabeth M, 1982. "Insurance, Liability, and Accidents: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of the Effect of No-Fault Accidents," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 49-65, April.
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  7. Aaron S. Edlin, 1999. "Per-Mile Premiums for Auto Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6934, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Sloan, Frank A. & Reilly, Bridget A. & Schenzler, Christoph M., 1994. "Tort liability versus other approaches for deterring careless driving," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 53-71, March.
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  13. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Edlin, Aaron S., 1999. "Per-Mile Premiums for Auto Insurance," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt06g53189, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  16. Gur Huberman & David Mayers & Clifford W. Smith Jr., 1983. "Optimal Insurance Policy Indemnity Schedules," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 415-426, Autumn.
  17. Steven Shavell, 2000. "On the Social Function and the Regulation of Liability Insurance," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 25(2), pages 166-179, April.
  18. Shavell, Steven, 1979. "On Moral Hazard and Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 541-62, November.
  19. Viscusi, W. Kip, 1996. "Fatal Tradeoffs: Public and Private Responsibilities for Risk," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102932.
  20. Michelle J. White, 1989. "An Empirical Test of the Comparative and Contributory Negligence Rules in Accident Law," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(3), pages 308-330, Autumn.
  21. Steven D. Levitt & Jack Porter, 2001. "How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(6), pages 1198-1237, December.
  22. Keeton, William R & Kwerel, Evan, 1984. "Externalities in Automobile Insurance and the Underinsured Driver Problem," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 149-79, April.
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