Despite what you might have read in the news lately, a recent OR paper suggests that you should not use your cell phone while driving.
Alex Nikolaev, Matthew Robbins, and Sheldon Jacobson recently wrote a paper that analyzed traffic accidents in 62 counties in New York before and after a cell-phone-while-driving ban. The University of Illinois press release summarizes their results:
The team found that after banning hand-held cell phone use while driving, 46 counties in New York experienced lower fatal accident rates, 10 of which did so at a statistically significant level, while all 62 counties experienced lower personal injury accident rates.
They also discovered that the personal injury accident rate decrease was more substantive in counties such as Bronx, New York and Queens, where there was a high density of licensed drivers rather than in sparsely populated areas of upstate New York.
“What that suggests is, if you have a congestion of cars and you’re distracted, you’re more likely to hit someone,” Jacobson said. “If you have a lower congestion of cars, you’re still distracted, but you’re less likely to hit anyone because there are less people to hit. It’s simple probability.”
The results of this paper are particularly interesting, since it counters what we have been hearing in the news the last two weeks (namely, that cell phone bans do not reduce motor vehicle accidents).
Link: the full paper in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.
Do you use your cell phone while driving?