Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Hit-and-Run or Hit-and-Stay: Do Stricter BAC Limits Encourage Drivers to Flee the Crash Scene?

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 9:10 AM
Tuttle South (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Michael T. French, University of Miami and Gulcin Gumus, Florida Atlantic University; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
We use state-specific annual data from the 1990-2010 US Fatality Analysis Reporting System to examine the effects of traffic policies on hit-and-run fatalities.  Results show that lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits may have an unintended consequence of increasing hit-and-run fatality rates, while a similar effect is not present for non-hit-and-run fatalities.  Specifically, we find that the 0.08 BAC limit increased hit-and-run traffic fatalities over this period by 13-16 percent.  As a potential mechanism, we suspect that intoxicated drivers might flee a crash scene due to severe driving-under-the-influence (DUI) sanctions, which are often more stringent than non-DUI hit-and-run penalties.