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Primary Seat Belt Laws and Offsetting Behavior: Empirical Evidence from Individual Accident Data

  • Bae, Yong-Kyun

According to the offsetting effect theory, since drivers wearing seat belts feel more secure, they tend to drive less carefully and may cause more accidents, including those involving pedestrians. Most previous studies have used only state-level accident data, which cannot control for individual characteristics of drivers, vehicles, and the environmental factors surrounding the accidents. This paper uses individual-level accident data to analyze how drivers respond to the laws exploiting changes in the seat belt laws in a number of US states in the last decade. I find that the laws do not cause less careful behavior by drivers. In fact, they drive more carefully when more stringent seat belt laws are in effect, and this leads to less involvement of pedestrians in accidents. These results show that the offsetting effects do not exist when all accidents, including fatal accidents, are considered.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/30443/1/MPRA_paper_30443.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 30443.

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Date of creation: 15 Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30443
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  1. 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.
  2. Lorenzo Cappellari & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2003. "Multivariate probit regression using simulated maximum likelihood," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(3), pages 278-294, September.
  3. Loeb, Peter D, 1995. "The Effectiveness of Seat-Belt Legislation in Reducing Injury Rates in Texas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 81-84, May.
  4. 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.
  5. Russell S. Sobel & Todd M. Nesbit, 2007. "Automobile Safety Regulation and the Incentive to Drive Recklessly: Evidence from NASCAR," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 71-84, July.
  6. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
  7. Anindya Sen & Brent Mizzen, 2007. "Estimating the Impact of Seat Belt Use on Traffic Fatalities: Empirical Evidence from Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 33(3), pages 315-336, September.
  8. Singh, Harinder & Thayer, Mark, 1992. "Impact of Seat Belt Use on Driving Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 649-58, October.
  9. Crandall, Robert W & Graham, John D, 1984. "Automobile Safety Regulation and Offsetting Behavior: Some New Empirical Estimates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 328-31, May.
  10. McCarthy, Patrick S., 1999. "Public policy and highway safety: a city-wide perspective," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 231-244, March.
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