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Does setting limits save lives? The case of 0.08 BAC laws


  • Thomas S Dee


Nineteen states have established laws that make it illegal per se to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. The controversy over extending this stricter definition throughout the nation has focused largely on whether the state laws have been effective at saving lives. Prior evidence on this question has been mixed as well as criticized on several methodological grounds. This study presents novel, panel-based evaluations of 0.08 BAC laws, which address the potential methodological limitations of previous studies. The results of this study indicate that 0.08 BAC laws have been effective in reducing the number of traffic fatalities, particularly among younger adults. These estimates suggest that the nationwide adoption of 0.08 BAC laws would generate substantial gains, reducing the annual count of traffic fatalities by at least 1200. © 2001 by the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:20:y:2001:i:1:p:111-128 DOI: 10.1002/1520-6688(200124)20:1<111::AID-PAM1006>3.0.CO;2-#

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
    2. Brent D. Mast & Bruce L. Benson & David W. Rasmussen, 1999. "Beer Taxation and Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 214-249, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Lave, Charles & Elias, Patrick, 1994. "Did the 65 mph Speed Limit Save Lives?," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt0z88b38t, University of California Transportation Center.
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