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Substance Abuse Treatment and Motor Vehicle Fatalities


  • Beth A. Freeborn

    () (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

  • Brian McManus

    () (Olin School of Business at Washington University)


The danger of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving implies that policies that reduce substance abuse can save lives. Using several estimation approaches, we show that a US county’s supply of substance abuse treatment facilities is negatively and significantly related to the county’s number of motor vehicle deaths. We find that placing an additional treatment clinic in a county reduces the number of vehicle fatalities by 8%. An additional outpatient clinic, which specializes in treating the local population, can reduce the overall number of traffic deaths by 13% and the number of alcohol-related deaths by 24%.

Suggested Citation

  • Beth A. Freeborn & Brian McManus, 2007. "Substance Abuse Treatment and Motor Vehicle Fatalities," Working Papers 66, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:66

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cohen, Alma & Dehejia, Rajeev, 2004. "The Effect of Automobile Insurance and Accident Liability Laws on Traffic Fatalities," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 357-393, October.
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    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Mingshan Lu & Thomas G. McGuire, 2002. "The Productivity of Outpatient Treatment for Substance Abuse," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 309-335.
    10. Benson, Bruce L. & Rasmussen, David W. & Mast, Brent D., 1999. "Deterring drunk driving fatalities: an economics of crime perspective1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 205-225, June.
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    12. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2003. "The Effects of Mandatory Seat Belt Laws on Driving Behavior and Traffic Fatalities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 828-843, November.
    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Popovici, Ioana & Maclean, J. Catherine & French, Michael, 2017. "The Effects of Health Insurance Parity Laws for Substance Use Disorder Treatment on Traffic Fatalities: Evidence of Unintended Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 10746, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Blattenberger, Gail & Fowles, Richard & Loeb, Peter D., 2013. "Determinants of motor vehicle crash fatalities using Bayesian model selection methods," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 112-122.
    3. Ioana Popovici & Johanna Catherine Maclean & Michael T. French, 2017. "Health Insurance and Traffic Fatalities: The Effects of Substance Use Disorder Parity Laws," NBER Working Papers 23388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    substance abuse; alcohol; motor vehicle fatalities; drunk driving;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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