Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cellphone bans associated with fewer urban accidents

Date:
November 15, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Cellphones and driving go together like knives and juggling. But when cellphone use is banned, are drivers any safer? It depends on where you're driving, a new study says. The study found that, long-term, enacting a cellphone ban was associated with a relative decrease in the accident rate in urban areas. However, in very rural areas, cellphone bans were associated with higher accident rates than would otherwise be expected.

Cellphones and driving go together like knives and juggling. But when cellphone use is banned, are drivers any safer?

It depends on where you're driving, a study by University of Illinois researchers says. The study found that, long-term, enacting a cellphone ban was associated with a relative decrease in the accident rate in urban areas. However, in very rural areas, cellphone bans were associated with higher accident rates than would otherwise be expected.

"The main idea is to use the eye test when it comes to cellphone use," says study leader Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science and mathematics at the U. of I. "If you look around and it's busy, it's a good idea to put the cellphone down and not use it when driving."

The Illinois study, published in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, is set apart by two factors: the length of time and the method of measuring driver density.

The study examines long-term trends of accident rates and their association with cellphone bans, comparing seven years of driver data in New York -- the first state to institute a statewide ban -- and neighboring Pennsylvania, which has no ban. Both states have similar weather patterns and wide diversity in size and population density of counties.

"Most other studies focus on a very short-term analysis," Jacobson said. "A law is enacted; what's the impact immediately? We try to take a much longer view and look at the impact not just over six months to a year, but over several years."

While most studies define driver density by licensed drivers per square mile, the Illinois researchers looked at the number of licensed drivers per mile of roadway to get a better estimate of traffic volume by county. They classified counties as urban, rural or very rural, and performed statistical analyses to look for trends in accident rates in each class over time.

Across all three classes, enacting a cellphone ban was associated with an initial rise in accident rate, followed by a steeper decline than would otherwise be expected, although the magnitude differed in each class of counties. In higher driver density areas, there was a clear, statistically significant, association between the enacting of a cellphone ban and relative reduction in personal injury accidents after seven years. By contrast, such bans in very rural areas were associated with a relative increase in accident rates over the same period.

"What we found in our research is that the cellphone ban was associated with different outcomes in different groups of counties," said industrial and enterprise systems engineering researcher Douglas King, a co-author of the study. "Based on this research, it suggests that a blanket cellphone ban may not always lead to a greater benefit. Based on the seven-year time period that we were able to examine, the outcome in each group of counties after the ban was not uniformly beneficial."

The cause of the slight increase of accidents in very rural areas is unknown, although Jacobson and King hypothesize that lower enforcement or other factors unique to rural driving may contribute.

"The other possible explanation is that in lower driver density areas, the number of accidents is smaller, and as a result the data collected isn't as rich," Jacobson said "This could be just a statistical anomaly."

Whatever the reason for the relative increase in rural accidents, the relative decline in urban accidents in New York versus Pennsylvania was clear: After the initial ban enactment, accident rates declined and continued to be lower over time.

"This is the kind of research that definitely should encourage densely populated areas to enact these laws," King said. "There's sufficient evidence to support it. When you start getting into rural and very rural areas, I think you have to have to take it in a case-by-case basis. But for urban areas, the evidence is substantial."

U. of I. graduate student Kevin Ryan and Air Force Institute of Technology researcher Matthew Robbins were co-authors of the paper. This work was supported by the Simulation and Optimization Laboratory in the department of computer science at the U. of I.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sheldon H. Jacobson, Douglas M. King, Kevin C. Ryan, Matthew J. Robbins. Assessing the long term benefit of banning the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 2012; 46 (10): 1586 DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2012.08.007

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Cellphone bans associated with fewer urban accidents." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115141637.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, November 15). Cellphone bans associated with fewer urban accidents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115141637.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Cellphone bans associated with fewer urban accidents." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115141637.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 21, 2014) Bank of America's settlement is by far the largest amount paid by big banks facing mortgage securities probes. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Researchers found the scanners could be duped simply by placing a weapon off to the side of the body or encasing it under a plastic shield. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins