US Department of Transportation Logo

Open Container Laws And
Alcohol Involved Crashes

NHTSA: People Saving People Logo

DOT HS 809 426

Some Preliminary Data

April 2002


Technical Documentation Page
Executive Summary
Background
Purpose of Section 154
Open Container Law Incentives
Open Container Law Conformance Criteria
Status of Conformance: October 2000
Evaluation of the Effects of Open Container Laws

Public Opinion Concerning Open Container Laws
Conclusions
Acknowledgments
References 
Appendix A: Data Tables

Table 1: Summary of Previous Open Container Laws In the First Four States to Enact Laws to Conform with TEA-21 Requirements


Figure 1: Percent of All Fatal Crashes That Were Alcohol-Involved: Six-Month Period After Enforcement Began Compared to the Same Period in the Previous Year


Figure 2: Nighttime Hit-and-Run Crashes: Six-Month Period After Enforcement Began Compared to the Same Period in the Previous Year

Figure 3: Percent of All Fatal Crashes That Were Alcohol-Involved

Figure 4: Percent of Residents Who Believe Their States Should Have An Open Container Law

 

This report presents the results of a study conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to assess the highway safety effects of laws that prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages to be located in the passenger compartment of motor vehicles operated on public roadways. These laws are commonly referred to as Open Container laws. 

Open Container Law Incentives

According to Section 154, if a state does not meet the statutory requirements by October 1, 2000 or October 1, 2001, an amount equal to one and one-half percent of the funds apportioned to the state on those dates under each of Sections 104(b)(1), (3) and (4) of title 23 of the United States Code will be transferred to the state’s apportionment under Section 402 of that title to be used for alcohol-impaired driving countermeasures or enforcement, hazard elimination, or related administration and planning.3 If a state does not meet the statutory requirements by October 1, 2002, an amount equal to three percent of the funds apportioned to the state on that date under Sections 104(b)(1), (3) and (4) will be transferred. An amount equal to three percent will continue to be transferred on October 1 of each subsequent fiscal year, if the state does not meet the requirements on those dates.4