Why policymakers need to be humble

File this away in the unintended consequences vault: Drunk driving deaths in the U.S. spike following smoking ban laws.

Although an increased accident risk might seem surprising at first, two strands of literature on consumer behavior suggest potential explanations—smokers driving longer distances to a bordering jurisdiction that allows smoking in bars and smokers driving longer distances within their jurisdiction to bars that still allow smoking, perhaps through non-compliance or outdoor seating. We find evidence consistent with both explanations. The increased miles driven by drivers wishing to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home following a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents.

The increases are between 10 and 19 percent. The paper, by Scott Adams and Chad Cotti, is here.

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One Response to “Why policymakers need to be humble”

  1. Josh Neumann Says:

    Another reason why the government getting involved is never a positive thing. Let people make their own decisions how to live their lives, and these problems somehow don’t happen.

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