Drink driving deaths drop after alcohol tax raised

8th April, 2015 by Melita Kiely

Higher alcohol taxes in the US state of Illinois resulted in fewer fatal drink driving incidents, a new study has found.

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Study finds higher alcohol taxes resulted in fewer drink driving deaths in Illinois, US

Researchers at the University of Florida examined the result of the 2009 tax hikes on alcohol in Illinois and published their findings in the American Journal of Public Health.

They found that after the state increased excise tax on spirits by US$4.05 per gallon, on beer by US$0.05 per gallon and wine by US$0.66 per gallon, alcohol-related car deaths fell 26% overall, and 37% among young people.

Fatal road accidents involving alcohol-impaired and extremely intoxicated drivers dropped 22% and 25% respectively.

“Similar alcohol tax increases implemented across the country could prevent thousands of deaths from car crashes each year,” said Alexander Wagenaar, a professor in the department of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida.

“If policymakers are looking to address dangerous drivers on our roads and reduce the number of fatalities, they should reverse the trend of allowing inflation to erode alcohol taxes.

“While our study confirms what dozens of earlier studies have found – that an increase in alcohol taxes reduces drinking and reduces alcohol-related health problems – what is unique is that we identified that alcohol taxes do in fact impact the whole range of drinking drivers, including extremely drunk drivers,” said Wagenaar.

“This goes against the conventional wisdom of many economists, who assert that heavy drinkers are less responsive to tax changes, and has powerful implications for how we can keep our communities safer.”

The authors of the study also noted that drink driving accidents cause approximately 10,000 deaths throughout the US every year, and more than half a million injuries.

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