CREAP2006-07: Lowering blood alcohol content levels to save lives: The European experience

Road safety has become an increasing concern in developed countries due to the significant amount of mortal victims and the economic losses derived. Only in 2005 these losses rose to 200.000 million euros, a significant amount – approximately the 2% of its GDP- that easily justifies any public intervention. One tool used by governments to face this challenge is the enactment of stricter policies and regulations. Since drunk driving is one of the most important concerns of public authorities on this field, several European countries decided to lower their illegal Blood Alcohol Content levels to 0.5 mg/ml during the last decade. This study evaluates for the first time the effectiveness of this transition using European panel-based data (CARE) for the period 1991-2003 using the Differences-in-Differences method in a fixed effects estimation that allows for any pattern of correlation (Cluster-Robust). My results show the existence of positive impacts on certain groups of road users and for the whole population when the policy is accompanied by some enforcement interventions. Moreover, a time lag of more than two years is found in that effectiveness. Finally, I also assert the importance of controlling for serial correlation in the evaluation of this kind of policies. 

Daniel Albalate (GPRE-IREA)  Published at Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 27 (1) pp. 20-39