DP15501 Mandatory Helmet Use and the Severity of Motorcycle Accidents: No Brainer?

Author(s): Magdalena Blanco, Jose Maria Cabrera, Felipe Carozzi, Alejandro Cid
Publication Date: November 2020
Keyword(s): Helmet Use, law enforcement, Traffic Accidents
JEL(s): H89, I12, I18, R41
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15501

We study the impact of mandatory motorcycle helmet use laws on the severity and volume of road accidents in Uruguay by exploiting a change in the enforcement of the traffic law. Using event-study, differences-in-difference and synthetic control methods, we report a sharp increase in helmet use and a 40 percent reduction in the incidence of serious or fatal motorcyclist accidents as a result of the change in enforcement. The change translates into an increase in minor injuries, indicating a shift in the distribution of accident severity. We find no evidence of other behavioral responses in terms of either the volume or type of accidents. We show that additional costs of enforcement for the relevant government agencies were negligible and estimate the health benefits of the policy.