Risk compensation and the effectiveness of safety belt use laws: a case study of New Jersey

Peter Asch, David T. Levy, Dennis Shea, Howard Bodenhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the effectiveness of New Jersey's mandatory belt use law (MUL) by testing specifically for: (1) a safety effect, and (2) a risk-compensation effect that could offset (in part) any safety impact. The main findings are that injury severity declined significantly in the 22 months following implementation of the MUL; but that accident frequency increased significantly. The increase in accidents may be explained only partially by increased driving mileage. These findings suggest that the real safety effect of the law may have been diluted by risk-compensating behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-197
Number of pages17
JournalPolicy Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 1991


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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