Gasoline prices and their relationship to drunk-driving crashes

Guangqing Chi, Xuan Zhou, Timothy E. McClure, Paul A. Gilbert, Arthur G. Cosby, Li Zhang, Angela A. Robertson, David Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study investigates the relationship between changing gasoline prices and drunk-driving crashes. Specifically, we examine the effects of gasoline prices on drunk-driving crashes in Mississippi by several crash types and demographic groups at the monthly level from 2004 to 2008, a period experiencing great fluctuation in gasoline prices. An exploratory visualization by graphs shows that higher gasoline prices are generally associated with fewer drunk-driving crashes. Higher gasoline prices depress drunk-driving crashes among young and adult drivers, among male and female drivers, and among white and black drivers. Results from negative binomial regression models show that when gas prices are higher, there are fewer drunk-driving crashes, particularly among property-damage-only crashes. When alcohol consumption levels are higher, there are more drunk-driving crashes, particularly fatal and injury crashes. The effects of gasoline prices and alcohol consumption are stronger on drunk-driving crashes than on all crashes. The findings do not vary much across different demographic groups. Overall, gasoline prices have greater effects on less severe crashes and alcohol consumption has greater effects on more severe crashes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Neal Feierabend and Lee Weiskopf of the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University for assistance in deriving traffic crash data, and Michael Iacono of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota for reviewing earlier drafts of this manuscript. Appreciation is extended to Bill Ponicki of the Preventive Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation for providing the alcohol consumption data, and to Trung Trinh of the Mississippi Department of Transportation Planning Division for providing the monthly vehicle miles traveled data. This research was supported by a grant from Mississippi Office of Highway Safety entitled “Public Safety Data Laboratory” (award number 09 K9 401-1). Director Kim Proctor and researcher Ron Sennett of the Office of Highway Safety and Captain Randy Ginn of the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol have been very helpful in facilitating this research.


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Drunk-driving crashes
  • Gasoline prices
  • Mississippi


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