The findings of a recent UK study might come as a shock to the Nanny State paternalists among us: lengthening the opening hours of pubs, clubs and bars that sell alcohol is associated with a reduction in traffic accidents.
The authors of the study explain that liberalising opening hours for venues selling alcohol ameliorated the previous practices of binge-drinking, associated with ‘beating the clock’ of venue shutdown. Reducing incentives to binge drink, in turn, contributed to a reduction in vehicle accidents. According to the researchers:
our evidence does suggest that later closing hours are associated with decreases in automobile accidents. This decrease has been concentrated among the young, those most likely to be influenced, and within the hours of the week where behaviour is most likely to be influenced.
Now, these researchers are not saying that we should all drink more alcohol in the quest to vanquish the road toll. Far from it.
However for Nanny Statists their puritanical advocacy of ‘seen’ early venue closure times may come at the ‘unseen’ cost of greater traffic accidents, as punters drink up to beat the clock. At the very least, they could be accused of amnesia, forgetting that venue opening hours were liberalised for the very purpose of preventing ‘beat the clock’ binge-drinking!