Effect of state cell phone bans on motor vehicle injury and fatality rates
Methods: A natural experiment was conducted to evaluate the change in injury and fatality rates in California before and after the implementation of laws prohibiting handheld cell phone use, text messaging, and teen cell phone use while driving. Synthetic control methods were used to determine a weighted average of collision rates in control states without the laws to estimate the counterfactual and account for underlying crash trends.
Results: During the 2.5 years following the start of California’s handheld driving ban, the fatality rate (fatalities per vehicle mile travelled) decreased 13 percent below the expected rate if no law had been in effect. This change corresponds to 1,839 fatalities prevented. A placebo test could not confirm that the relationship between the law and fatality rate was causal.
Conclusions: While data analyses on injury data continue, the results for fatal collisions indicate that the handheld cell phone ban coincided with a significant decrease in fatality rates, when controlling for the underlying trend.
Learning Areas:Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Describe the effect of cell phone driving bans on injury and fatality rates in California. Describe the challenges of evaluating cell phone driving laws.
Keyword(s): Transportation, Law
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a PhD in civil and environmental engineering with a focus on transportation, and I have five years’ experience in the study of traffic safety.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.