Alcohol tax tied to fewer fatal car crashes
When Illinois increased taxes on beer, wine, and spirits in 2009, there was a 26 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatal car crashes, say researchers from the University of Florida, with the greatest reduction being among young people. Deaths in that group fell by 37 percent.
Researchers used data on fatal car crashes in Illinois from January 2001 to December 2011 collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They analyzed patterns of fatal crashes 104 months before and 28 months after the new alcohol taxes began.
The details of the car crash data allowed them to analyze the effect of the tax, in terms of driver’s age, gender, race, and level of blood alcohol measured at the time of the crash–0.15 percent was defined as impaired driving and above this level was defined as drunken driving. They also took into account other factors including traffic safety programs, economic conditions, and the weather. They compared alcohol-related car crashes with non-alcohol related car crashes and similarly analyzed car crashes in Wisconsin, which had not introduced any tax changes. Taking all of these factors into account, the researchers concluded that the decrease in car crashes was tied to the tax increase on alcohol.
They found that increasing alcohol taxes can affect a large range of drinkers who drive, including extremely drunk drivers. This study has implications on how policymakers can make communities safer when it comes to alcohol and driving.