Lowering blood alcohol content levels to save lives: A European case study
Road safety has become an increasing concern in developed countries due to the significant amount of fatalities and the associated economic losses. Only in 2005 these losses rose to 200,000 million euros, a considerable sum approximately 2% of GDP that easily justifies any public intervention. One measure taken by governments to address this issue is to enact stricter policies and regulations. Since drunk driving is one of the greatest concerns among public authorities in this field, several European countries have lowered their illegal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels to 0.5 mg/ml during the last decade. This study is the first evaluation of the effectiveness of this transition using European panel-based data (CARE) for the period 1991-2003 with the differences-in-differences method in a fixed effects estimation that allows for any pattern of correlation (Cluster-Robust). The results reveal a positive impact on certain groups of road users and on the whole population when the policy is accompanied by enforcement interventions. Moreover, positive results appeared after a time lag of over two years. Finally, I state the importance of controlling for serial correlation in the evaluation of this type of policy.
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