Assessing the long term benefit of banning the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving

Sheldon H. Jacobson, Douglas M. King, Kevin C. Ryan, Matthew J. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An increasing number of legislative efforts have been undertaken to prohibit the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving. As of July 2012, ten states and the District of Columbia enforce laws banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging while driving. Recent studies of driver behavior suggest that hand-held wireless device usage negatively impacts driver performance. However few studies at the aggregate level address the plausible link between the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving, increased risk of automobile accidents, and government legislative efforts to reduce such risk. This paper analyzes data at the aggregate level and builds a regression model to estimate the long term accident rate reduction due to a hand-held ban. This model differs from previous studies, which consider short term accident rate reduction, by considering time trends in the accident rate due to the ban. Additionally, counties considered in this analysis are placed into groups based on driver density, defined by the number of licensed drivers per centerline mile of roadway, and a separate analysis is performed within these groups. This approach allows one to better quantify the effect of hand-held bans in counties of different driver densities. Results from this paper suggest that bans on hand-held wireless device use while driving reduce the rate of personal injury accidents in counties with high levels of driver density, but may increase accident rates in counties with low driver density levels. These results can inform transportation policymakers interested in reducing automobile-accident-risk attributable to the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1586-1593
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Volume46
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

Keywords

  • Automobile accident
  • Cell phone
  • Legislation
  • Road safety
  • Wireless

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research

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