Mobile phone ban while driving has more impact in dense regions

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Washington, Feb 10 (ANI): Legislation banning cell phone use while driving has more of an impact in densely populated urban areas with a higher number of licensed drivers than in rural areas where there are fewer licensed drivers, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by Sheldon H. Jacobson, a University of Illinois researcher, analyzed the relationship between pre- and post-law automobile accident rates using public data from 62 counties in New York.

Jacobson and co-researchers Alexander G. Nikolaev and Matthew J. Robbins 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 found 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. 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," Jacobson said.

Although a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving in rural areas has less of an impact on driver safety, Jacobson says that doesn't necessarily mean the ban itself is worthless.

"Hand-held cell phone bans are very valuable in high-density urban areas, but less so in lower-density rural areas. But that doesn't mean they have no impact in rural areas. It just means that such legislation is less likely to have an impact on driver accident rates," Jacobson said.

The study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Transportation Research. (ANI)

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