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

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  • Bae, Yong-Kyun

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30443
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/30443/1/MPRA_paper_30443.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Singh, Harinder & Thayer, Mark, 1992. "Impact of Seat Belt Use on Driving Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 649-658, October.
    2. Steven D. Levitt & Jack Porter, 2001. "Sample Selection In The Estimation Of Air Bag And Seat Belt Effectiveness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 603-615, November.
    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. 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.
    5. 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.
    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. 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.
    8. 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.
    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 328-331, May.
    10. Lorenzo Cappellari & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2003. "Multivariate probit regression using simulated maximum likelihood," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(3), pages 278-294, September.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Seat belts lead to safer driving
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-06-02 19:17:00

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Offsetting Effects; Safety Regulation; Seat Belt Laws; Vehicle Accidents;

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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