Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No evidence that California cellphone ban decreased accidents, says researcher

Date:
July 17, 2014
Source:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Summary:
No evidence has been found that a California ban on using hand-held cellphones while driving decreased the number of traffic accidents in the state in the first six months following the ban. The findings are surprising given prior research that suggests driving while using a cellphone is risky. For example, past laboratory studies have shown that people who talk on a cellphone while using driving simulators are as impaired as people who are intoxicated.

In a recent study, a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder found no evidence that a California ban on using hand-held cellphones while driving decreased the number of traffic accidents in the state in the first six months following the ban.

Related Articles


The findings, published in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, are surprising given prior research that suggests driving while using a cellphone is risky. For example, past laboratory studies have shown that people who talk on a cellphone while using driving simulators are as impaired as people who are intoxicated.

"If it's really that dangerous, and if even just a fraction of people stop using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents," said Daniel Kaffine, an associate professor of economics at CU-Boulder and an author of the study. "But we didn't find any statistical evidence of a reduction."

California enacted its ban on hand-held cellphones on July 1, 2008. For the new study, Kaffine and his co-authors -- Nicholas Burger of the RAND Corporation and Bob Yu of the Colorado School of Mines -- looked at the number of daily accidents in the six months leading up to the law's enactment and compared that to the number of accidents in the six months following the ban.

They chose to look a relatively narrow window of time to reduce the number of other variables that might have an impact on accident rates, including the possible introduction of safer cars into the market, an economic recession that leads to a drop in overall driving, or other changes to state traffic laws.

The researchers also corrected their data to account for precipitation, which can cause more accidents; gas prices, which can affect how many vehicles are on the road; and other unobservable factors that may have influenced accidents.

The study was not designed to determine why accidents did not decrease, but there are several possible reasons, Kaffine said. One is that people switched from using hand-held devices to hands-free devices, such as ones with Bluetooth technology. Prior studies in the lab have suggested that both types of devices may be equally distracting.

It's also possible that people were not complying with the new law, though past studies suggest that cellphone use dropped in other states when bans were enacted.

The reason could also be that the type of people who would drive recklessly using a cellphone are generally prone to distracted driving and would potentially cause accidents by fiddling with things, such as CD players or GPS devices, if they weren't using their cellphones.

And finally, it's possible that past studies of the risk of using cellphones while driving overestimate the danger. Since many of these studies were done in the lab, it could be that people perform differently using a driving simulator than they do on a real road.

Determining which, if any, of these reasons may have led to the ineffectiveness of California's ban could lead to better cellphone policies in the future. For example, if the problem is just that compliance is low, then an increase in fines might be all that's necessary to decrease accidents.

"Disentangling these effects will be useful for policymakers in other states who are considering policies to address distracted driving," Kaffine said. "However, our results suggest that simply banning hand-held cellphone use may not produce the desired increase in traffic safety."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas E. Burger, Daniel T. Kaffine, Bob Yu. Did California’s hand-held cell phone ban reduce accidents? Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 2014; 66: 162 DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2014.05.008

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado at Boulder. "No evidence that California cellphone ban decreased accidents, says researcher." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717142009.htm>.
University of Colorado at Boulder. (2014, July 17). No evidence that California cellphone ban decreased accidents, says researcher. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717142009.htm
University of Colorado at Boulder. "No evidence that California cellphone ban decreased accidents, says researcher." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717142009.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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