Hard Core Drunk Drivers

Federally-supported research by professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard indicate that the most effective way to decrease overall auto fatalities is to punish the "relatively small fraction of hard-core drunk drivers." Although the punishments don't reduce the numbers of drunk drivers, those who are drunk drive more carefully and have fewer accidents.

Using an innovative new technique enabled the researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of different law enforcement strategies. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and used records collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).


  • Levitt, S., and Porter, J. How dangerous are drinking drivers? Journal of Political Economy, 2001, 109(6), 1198-1237.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving