Online Program

Mobile device use policies targeting drivers: What the evidence shows

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Amy L. Radican-Wald, DrPH, Policy, Center for Mississippi Health Policy, Jackson, MS
objective:  Determine the impact of mobile device use while driving to inform state policy considerations.

study design:  Mixed-methods analysis of traffic and vital records data and stakeholder interviews.

population:  2011 state/county crash injuries  (n = 18,068); 2008-2012 crash fatalities (n=3,336); qualitative interviews (n=12).

findings: Mississippi adult drivers report commonly using  mobile devices while driving. Distracted driving contributed to 1 out of 12 crash-related deaths in a state with one of the highest motor vehicle crash death rates nationwide (23 per 100,000). Impacts of each crash-related death is estimated to be an additional 8 people hospitalized for serious crash injury at an estimated medical cost of $56,674 per injury and 100 treated for a moderate injury at a medical cost of $3,362 per injury. In 2011, the state reported 442 serious, 4,064 moderate, and 13,562 minor crash injuries with an estimated medical service cost of $38.6 million. The state has enacted mobile device use restrictions which apply to novice and school bus drivers. Few traffic citations resulted per interviews. Other restrictions were considered, not enacted. Enforcement and drivers targeted are key policy debate topics.

While statewide crash death rates remains high, rates declined significantly (p<.01) from 2008 to 2012 for traffic safety risks (unbelted, speeding, alcohol impaired) receiving coordinated policy enactment, law enforcement, and public education supports. Nationally, all but 2 states have enacted mobile device bans by some or all drivers which vary by type of law enforcement authorized and device use banned. States that reduced motor vehicle crash deaths significantly enacted policy provisions to prohibit mobile device use by all drivers and authorized enforcement when it is a primary traffic safety violation. Mississippi could have reduced crash death counts by an estimated 95 lives and severe to moderate crash injury counts by 10,260 if a primary enforced mobile device ban for all drivers had been authorized from 2008 to 2012. Medical service spending costs could have been reduced by an estimated $75.01 million.

conclusions: Mobile device use is a common distracted driving behavior with a hefty health and economic toll, particularly in a state with few policy restrictions.

implications for policy/practice:  Evidence about the impact of mobile device use by drivers has grown. Application of the findings are critical to inform policy debates for improving health and economic outcomes.

Learning Areas:

Biostatistics, economics
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the types of policies enacted to address mobile device use while driving. Discuss estimates of the population health and economic impacts of mobile device use laws enacted. Identify evidence-based policies with potential to impact health and economic outcomes related to mobile device us while driving.

Keyword(s): Public Health Policy, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an epidemiologist and senior policy analyst with over a decade of professional experience working with diverse stakeholders including government, non-profit and private organizations. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Public Health Association and as a Governing Council member for the American Public Health Association. I am a doctoral candidate completing a dissertation in public health epidemiology and hold a masters degree in public health epidemiology and biostatistics.
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.