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

  • Sampaio, Breno

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

Volume (Year): 44 (2010)
Issue (Month): 9 (November)
Pages: 766-770

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Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:44:y:2010:i:9:p:766-770
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  1. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 1984. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 1489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-61, April.
  3. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," NBER Working Papers 4509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-82, July.
  5. 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.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  7. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
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