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The Disconnect Between Law and Policy Analysis: A Case Study of Drivers and Cell Phones


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  • Dudley, Patrick M.
  • Hahn, Robert W.


This paper assesses the policy response to the use of cellular phones while driving from a legal, economic and political perspective. We argue that there is a fundamental disconnect between law and policy analysis. The disconnect arises largely because the political process is more responsive to the public's perception of risk than the scientists' risk assessments and the economists' policy analyses. Consequently, lawmakers are advocating both inefficient and ineffective regulatory options while ignoring important aspects of the problem. If cell phones represented an isolated example, there would be little cause for concern. Unfortunately, the problem is more general and therefore demands that policy makers consider new institutions for addressing potential biases in decision making. We examine possible explanations for the disconnect between law and policy analysis, and suggest some lessons about the design of institutions for addressing complex regulatory issues.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 350.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:350

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Cited by:
  1. Hahn, Robert W. & Prieger, James E., 2004. "The Impact of Driver Cell Phone Use on Accidents," Working paper 68, Regulation2point0.
  2. Nicholas E. Burger & Daniel T. Kaffine & Bo Yu, 2013. "Did California's hand-held cell phone ban reduce accidents?," Working Papers 2013-08, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
  3. Bhargava, Saurabh & Pathania, Vikram, 2007. "Driving Under the (Cellular) Influence: The Link Between Cell Phone Use and Vehicle Crashes," Working paper 549, Regulation2point0.


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