Driving Under the (Cellular) Influence: The Link Between Cell Phone Use and Vehicle Crashes
AbstractThe link between cell phone use while driving and crash risk has in recent years become an area of active research. The most notable of the over 125 studies has concluded that cell phones produce a four-fold increase in relative crash risk comparable to that produced by illicit levels of alcohol. In response, policy makers in fourteen states have either partially or fully restricted driver cell phone use. We investigate the causal link between cellular usage and crash rates by exploiting a natural experiment induced by a popular feature of cell phone plans in recent years'the discontinuity in marginal pricing at 9 pm on weekdays when plans transition from 'peak' to 'off-peak' pricing. We first document a jump in call volume of about 20-30% at 'peak' to 'off-peak' switching times for two large samples of callers from 2000-2001 and 2005. Using a double difference estimator which uses the era prior to price switching as a control (as well as weekends as a second control), we find no evidence for a rise in crashes after 9 pm on weekdays from 2002-2005. The 95% CI of the estimates rules out any increase in all crashes larger than .9% and any increase larger than 2.4% for fatal crashes. These estimates are at odds with the crash risks implied by the existing research. We confirm our results with three additional empirical approaches'we compare trends in cell phone ownership and crashes across areas of contiguous economic activity over time, investigate whether differences in urban versus rural crash rates mirror identified gaps in urban-rural cellular ownership, and finally estimate the impact of legislation banning driver cell phone use on crash rates. None of the additional analyses produces evidence for a positive link between cellular use and vehicle crashes.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 549.
Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Web page: http://regulation2point0.org/
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- Hahn, Robert W. & Prieger, James E., 2006.
"The Impact of Driver Cell Phone Use on Accidents,"
- Hahn, Robert W. & Prieger, James E., 2004. "The Impact of Driver Cell Phone Use on Accidents," Working paper 68, Regulation2point0.
- James E. Prieger & Robert W. Hahn, 2005. "The Impact of Driver Cell Phone Use on Accidents," Working Papers 520, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
- Burnett, Jason K. & Hahn, Robert W. & Tetlock, Paul C., 2000. "Should You Be Allowed to Use Your Cellular Phone While Driving?," Working paper 58, Regulation2point0.
- Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi, 2005. "Value of a Statistical Life: Relative Position vs. Relative Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 142-146, May.
- Dudley, Patrick M. & Hahn, Robert W., 2002. "The Disconnect Between Law and Policy Analysis: A Case Study of Drivers and Cell Phones," Working paper 350, Regulation2point0.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Browsing Catharsis 04.05.13
by rhmurphy in Increasing Marginal Utility (Tom Bozzo) on 2013-04-05 12:00:30
- Daniel Sperber & Alan Shiell & Ken Fyie, 2010. "The cost-effectiveness of a law banning the use of cellular phones by drivers," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(10), pages 1212-1225.
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