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On the identification of the effect of prohibiting hand-held cell phone use while driving: Comment

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  • Sampaio, Breno

Abstract

In a paper recently published in this journal (Nikolaev, A.G., Robbins, M.J., Jacobson, S.H., 2010. Evaluating the impact of legislation prohibiting hand-held cell phone use while driving. Transportation Research Part A 44, 182-193.), Nikolaev et al. (2010) provide evidences on the effect of hand-held cell phone bans on driving safety. More specifically, they analyze the impact of a state-wide ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving on the number of fatal automobile and personal injury accidents per 100,000 licensed drivers per year and conclude that the ban had a significant negative impact on both the mean fatal accident rate and the mean personal injury accident rate. In this paper I argue that they lack of a good identification strategy that enables them to correctly identify the causal effect of the ban. I also provide evidence that the effect they find is a combination of the ban effect and of unobservable variables not accounted for in their analysis. Finally, I provide a way where one can control for unobservables when estimating the causal effect of the ban and find that indeed that ban appears to have a negative effect on fatal automobile accidents.

Suggested Citation

  • Sampaio, Breno, 2010. "On the identification of the effect of prohibiting hand-held cell phone use while driving: Comment," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(9), pages 766-770, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:44:y:2010:i:9:p:766-770
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    2. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-793, September.
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    4. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
    5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1985. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 648-660, November.
    6. Nikolaev, Alexander G. & Robbins, Matthew J. & Jacobson, Sheldon H., 2010. "Evaluating the impact of legislation prohibiting hand-held cell phone use while driving," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 182-193, March.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    8. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-161, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Rahi Abouk & Scott Adams, 2013. "Texting Bans and Fatal Accidents on Roadways: Do They Work? Or Do Drivers Just React to Announcements of Bans?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 179-199, April.
    3. Jacobson, Sheldon H. & King, Douglas M. & Ryan, Kevin C. & Robbins, Matthew J., 2012. "Assessing the long term benefit of banning the use of hand-held wireless devices while driving," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(10), pages 1586-1593.

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