An Extra Hour Wasted? Bar Closing Hours and Traffic Accidents in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Driving under the influence of alcohol is a major cause of fatalities worldwide. There have been a range of legislative and policy interventions aiming to address this. Bar closing hours is one policy with clear implications for drink driving. Existing evidence, largely drawn from one-off policy changes in urban settings, reports mixed evidence that is difficult to generalize. We return to this issue using a setting, Norway, that is advantageous due to large temporal and regional variation in closing times, frequent changes, and a lack of confounding policy changes. We demonstrate an average zero effect of closing hours on traffic accidents that masks large variations in effects: in terms of population density; accident severity; and direction of change in closing hours. Extensions in closing hours in populous municipalities decrease accidents, whereas the opposite is true for rural municipalities. Our findings suggest that estimates from single policy changes may be difficult to generalize, while demonstrating that closing hours can generate large effects on traffic accidents.