Cell phone use while driving laws and motor vehicle driver fatalities: differences in population subgroups and location

Toni M. Rudisill, Haitao Chu, Motao Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Research suggests that cell phone use while driving laws are associated with lower driver fatalities. This study seeks to determine whether this relationship is modified by driver age (16–24, 25–39, 40–59, ≥60), sex (male, female), race/ethnicity (white non-Hispanic, white Hispanic, black non-Hispanic, other), or rurality (rural, urban). Methods: Fatality Analysis Reporting System data were merged with state legislation (2000–2014). The exposure was the type of legislation in effect. The outcome was non–alcohol-related driver fatalities by state-quarter-year. Incident rate ratios were estimated using generalized Poisson mixed regression for overdispersed count data with robust standard errors. Results: Amongst 190,544 drivers, compared to periods without bans, universal hand-held calling bans were associated with 10% (adjusted incident rate ratio = 0.90, 95% confidence interval 0.84, 0.96) lower non–alcohol-related driver fatalities overall and up to 13% lower fatalities across all age groups and sexes but not for race/ethnicity or rurality. When comparing state-quarter-years with bans to those without, universal texting bans were not associated with lower fatalities overall or for any demographic group. Conclusions: The relationships between cell phone laws and non–alcohol-related driver fatalities are modified by driver demographics, particularly for universal hand-held bans. Universal hand-held calling bans may benefit more types of drivers compared to texting bans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-735
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Sijun Shen for his assistance verifying the data used in this analysis. T.M.R., H.C., and M.Z. had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. T.M.R. and M.Z. received support from National Institutes of Health grants R01HD074594 , R21HD085122 , and R01AG050581 , and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant R49CE002109 . The funders did not have any role in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the report for publication.


  • Automobile driving
  • Cell phones
  • Epidemiology
  • Fatal outcome
  • Legislation

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