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Driving under the (Cellular) Influence*

* This paper is a replication of an original study


  • Saurabh Bhargava
  • Vikram S. Pathania


We investigate the causal link between driver cell phone use and crash rates by exploiting a natural experiment induced by the 9 pm price discontinuity that characterizes a majority of recent cellular plans. We first document a 7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9 pm threshold. Using a prior period as a comparison, we next document no corresponding change in the relative crash rate. Our estimates imply an upper bound in the crash risk odds ratio of 3.0, which rejects the 4.3 asserted by Redelmeier and Tibshirani (1997). Additional panel analyses of cell phone ownership and cellular bans confirm our result.

Suggested Citation

  • Saurabh Bhargava & Vikram S. Pathania, 2013. "Driving under the (Cellular) Influence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 92-125, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:92-125
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.3.92

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    Cited by:

    1. Abay, Kibrom A. & Kahsay, Goytom Abraha, 2018. "Long-term effects of alternative deterrence policies: Panel data evidence from traffic punishments in Denmark," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-19.
    2. Palsson, Craig, 2017. "Smartphones and child injuries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 200-213.
    3. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Murphy, Richard, 2016. "Ill Communication: Technology, distraction & student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 61-76.
    4. Michael D. Grubb & Matthew Osborne, 2015. "Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 234-271, January.
    5. 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, October.
    6. Stijn Baert & Sunčica Vujić & Simon Amez & Matteo Claeskens & Thomas Daman & Arno Maeckelberghe & Eddy Omey & Lieven De Marez, 2020. "Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 22-46, February.
    7. Melanie Guldi & Chris M. Herbst, 2017. "Offline effects of online connecting: the impact of broadband diffusion on teen fertility decisions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 69-91, January.
    8. Devi Brands & Joris Klingen & Francis Ostermeijer, 2020. "Hands on the Wheel, Eyes on the Phone: the Effect of Smart Phone Usage on Road Safety," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-024/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Kolko Jed D, 2009. "The Effects of Mobile Phones and Hands-Free Laws on Traffic Fatalities," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-28, March.
    10. Christopher S. Carpenter & Hai V. Nguyen, 2015. "Effects of a Driver Cellphone Ban on Overall, Handheld, and Hands‐Free Cellphone Use While Driving: New Evidence from Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(11), pages 1452-1467, November.
    11. French, Michael T. & Gumus, Gulcin, 2018. "Watch for motorcycles! The effects of texting and handheld bans on motorcyclist fatalities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 216(C), pages 81-87.
    12. Leandro Rocco & Breno Sampaio, 2016. "Are handheld cell phone and texting bans really effective in reducing fatalities?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 853-876, September.


    This item is a replication of:

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    JEL classification:

    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise


    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Driving under the (Cellular) Influence (American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2013) in ReplicationWiki


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