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Hands on the Wheel, Eyes on the Phone: the Effect of Smart Phone Usage on Road Safety


  • Devi Brands

    (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Joris Klingen

    (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Francis Ostermeijer

    (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


We provide novel evidence on the effect of smart phone use on road accidents. We exploit variation in phone usage fees in the Netherlands following a change in European Union (EU) roaming regulations implemented in 2017. The growth rate of mobile data roaming increased substantially after the change, which allows us to estimate a difference-in-differences model where non-Dutch drivers from the EU are treated, while Dutch drivers serve as control group. Our results suggest that around 10% of vehicles involved in accidents can be explained by the use of smart phones, and that these accidents mainly happen on urban roads.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20200024

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    road safety; accident risk; smart phones; urban roads;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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