Did California's Hand-Held Cell Phone Ban Reduce Accidents?

Published in: Transportation Research Part A, v. 66, Aug. 2014, p. 162-172

Posted on RAND.org on July 23, 2014

by Nicholas E. Burger, Daniel T. Kaffine, Bob Yu

On July 1st, 2008, California enacted a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving. Using California Highway Patrol panel accident data for California freeways from January 1st, 2008 to December 31st, 2008, we examine whether this policy reduced the number of accidents on California highways. To control for unobserved time-varying effects that could be correlated with the ban, we use high-frequency data and a regression discontinuity design. We find no evidence that the ban on hand-held cell phone use led to a reduction in traffic accidents.

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