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What impacts what new drunk driving laws states adopt?

Drunk driving is a traffic safety issue that has massive impacts. When drivers get behind the wheel while intoxicated, they create a major auto accident risk. Drunk driving accidents can cause significant amounts of property damage, cause people to get seriously hurt and even take lives.

Thus, what laws a state has in place to try to prevent and stop drunk driving matters greatly. What sorts of drunk driving laws a state has can have the potential to have big impacts on how safe a state's roads are. States vary greatly in the types of drunk driving laws they have and how frequently they adopt new types of drunk driving laws.

Recently, a study looked at what sorts of things were the biggest predictors of whether a state would adopt a new type of drunk driving law. What the study found to be the biggest predictors might surprise you.

The study looked at the 1980-2010 drunk driving law adoption records of the states when it came to a variety of different classes of drunk driving laws. The study also looked at a variety of different internal and external factors regarding the states over this time, such as factors involving fatality rates, alcohol use, political environment, demographics and the actions of a state's neighbors.

The researchers in the study then compared these things to see which factors best predicted how likely a given state was to adopt new types of drunk driving laws. The two factors the study found to be the best predictors of this were how the state's neighbors acted when it came to the adoption of such laws and how big of a young adult population the state has. It might be surprising to some that these factors topped the list, rather than factors like fatality rates or other things related to how big of a problem drunk driving is in a state.

What do you think of these findings? What lessons should we take from them? What do you think are the things that most impact what sorts of driving laws a state adopts? What do you think are the things that should be dictating what sorts of drunk driving laws a state adopts? What do you think could help address discrepancies between these two things?

Source: Claims Journal, "Driver Age and Neighboring States Best Predictor of Drunk Driving Law Adoption," August 12, 2015

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