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Sample Selection in the Estimation of Air Bag and Seat Belt Effectiveness

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  • Steven D. Levitt
  • Jack Porter

Abstract

Measurement of seat belt and air bag effectiveness is complicated by the fact that systematic data are collected only for crashes in which a fatality occurs. These data suffer from sample selection since seat belt and air bag usage influences survival rates which in turn determine whether a crash is included in the sample. Past researchers either ignored sample selection or adopted indirect estimation methods subject to other important biases. We propose a simple, but novel, solution to the selection problem: limiting the sample to crashes in which someone in a different vehicle dies. Under relatively weak conditions, consistent estimates can be obtained from this restricted sample. Empirically, we find seat belts to be more effective in saving lives than most previous estimates. Air bags, however, appear to be less effective than generally thought. If our coefficients can be generalized to all crashes, the cost per life saved with seat belts is approximately $30,000, compared to $1.6 million for air bags.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven D. Levitt & Jack Porter, 1999. "Sample Selection in the Estimation of Air Bag and Seat Belt Effectiveness," NBER Working Papers 7210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7210
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael D. Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann, 2011. "More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 863-888.
    2. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa & Mariatiziana Falcone, 2010. "The Deterrent Effects of Penalty Point System in Driving Licenses: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," Working Papers 201004, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    3. Lauren E. Jones & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2017. "U.S. Child Safety Seat Laws: Are they Effective, and Who Complies?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(3), pages 584-607, June.
    4. 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.
    5. Laurent Linnemer, 2012. "Compte rendu d'ouvrage -La société des inconnus : Histoire naturelle de la collectivité humaine," Post-Print hal-00939396, HAL.
    6. Brozovic, Nicholas & Ando, Amy Whritenour, 2009. "Defensive purchasing, the safety (dis)advantage of light trucks, and motor-vehicle policy effectiveness," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 477-493, June.
    7. Parry, Ian W. H., 2004. "Comparing alternative policies to reduce traffic accidents," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 346-368, September.
    8. Abay, Kibrom A. & Paleti, Rajesh & Bhat, Chandra R., 2013. "The joint analysis of injury severity of drivers in two-vehicle crashes accommodating seat belt use endogeneity," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 74-89.
    9. White, Michelle J, 2004. "The "Arms Race" on American Roads: The Effect of Sport Utility Vehicles and Pickup Trucks on Traffic Safety," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 333-355, October.
    10. Lv, Jinpeng & Lord, Dominique & Zhang, Yunlong & Chen, Zhi, 2015. "Investigating Peltzman effects in adopting mandatory seat belt laws in the US: Evidence from non-occupant fatalities," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 58-64.
    11. Roberto Bande & Elva López-Mourelo, 2015. "The Impact of Worker’s Age on the Consequences of Occupational Accidents: Empirical Evidence Using Spanish Data," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 129-174, June.
    12. David W. Harless & George E. Hoffer, 2003. "Testing for Offsetting Behavior and Adverse Recruitment Among Drivers of Airbag-Equipped Vehicles," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 70(4), pages 629-650.
    13. Carlos García-Serrano & Virginia Hernanz & Luis Toharia, 2010. "Mind the Gap, Please! The Effect of Temporary Help Agencies on the Consequences of Work Accidents," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 162-182, June.
    14. Antonio Nicita & Simona Benedettini, 2012. "The Costs of Avoiding Accidents.Selective Compliance and the 'Peltzman Effect' in Italy," Department of Economics University of Siena 631, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    15. Bae, Yong-Kyun, 2011. "Primary Seat Belt Laws and Offsetting Behavior: Empirical Evidence from Individual Accident Data," MPRA Paper 30443, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Laurent Limmer, 2012. "Compte rendu d'ouvrage - Seabright, Paul (2011) La société des inconnus : Histoire naturelle de la collectivité humaine," Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies - Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement, INRA Department of Economics, vol. 93(2), pages 213-215.
    17. Anderson, D. Mark & Sandholt, Sina, 2016. "Booster Seats and Traffic Fatalities among Children," IZA Discussion Papers 10071, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Bae, Yong-Kyun, 2013. "Primary Seat-Belt Laws and Driver Behavior: Evidence from Accident Data," MPRA Paper 49823, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Sep 2013.
    19. Dudin, Mikhail & Frolova, Evgenia & Gryzunova, Natalie & Shuvalova, Elena, 2015. "The Triple Helix Model as a Mechanism for Partnership between the State, Business, and the Scientific-Educational Community in the Area of Organizing National Innovation Development," Published Papers dud15, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
    20. Clifford Winston & Vikram Maheshri & Fred Mannering, 2006. "An exploration of the offset hypothesis using disaggregate data: The case of airbags and antilock brakes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 83-99, March.
    21. Henrik Andersson, 2005. "The Value of Safety as Revealed in the Swedish Car Market: An Application of the Hedonic Pricing Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 211-239, May.

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    JEL classification:

    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General

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