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How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?

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  • Steven D. Levitt
  • Jack Porter

Abstract

We present a methodology for measuring the risks posed by drinking drivers that relies solely on readily available data on fatal crashes. The key to our identification strategy is a hidden richness inherent in two-car crashes. Drivers with alcohol in their blood are seven times more likely to cause a fatal crash; legally drunk drivers pose a risk 13 times greater than sober drivers. The externality per mile driven by a drunk driver is at least 30 cents. At current enforcement rates the punishment per arrest for drunk driving that internalizes this externality would be equivalent to a fine of $8,000.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:109:y:2001:i:6:p:1198-1237
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/323281
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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. Chaloupka, Frank J & Saffer, Henry & Grossman, Michael, 1993. "Alcohol-Control Policies and Motor-Vehicle Fatalities," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 161-186, January.
    3. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economics: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 45-97.
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