Laws banning hand-held cellphone calls more effective than texting bans for teen drivers

February 21, 2018, Nationwide Children's Hospital
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new study led by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital used data from a national survey to examine the effectiveness of state-level cellphone laws in decreasing teens' use of cellphones while driving. The study, done in conjunction with researchers from West Virginia University and the University of Minnesota, and published today in Journal of Adolescent Health, looked at state-level cellphone laws and differences in both texting and hand-held cellphone conversations among teen drivers across four years.

The study found differences in the effectiveness of the laws for ' cellphone use based on the type of ban - hand-held phone conversations or - as well as whether the ban applied to or all drivers (universal). Teen drivers reported 55% fewer hand-held phone conversations when universal hand-held calling bans were in place compared to state with no bans. Universal texting bans did not fully discourage teens from texting while driving. Bans limited to just young drivers were not effective in reducing either hand-held conversations or texting. Even with laws in place, about one-third of teen are still talking on the phone and texting while driving.

"Our study shows that universal bans of hand-held cellphone calls while driving can be effective in reducing teens' hand-held conversations while driving, but texting bans are not effective in reducing texting while driving," said Motao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD, the study's lead author and Principal Investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Nearly all states ban texting while driving, however, these bans are not effective. More states should implement hand-held cellphone bans, which have been proven to discourage hand-held cellphone conversations while driving."

While the causes for the differences in laws and behavior are unknown, these relationships may be attributed to actual or perceived enforcement of these laws. For example, it may be easier for police to enforce universal hand-held bans because they don't need to judge a driver's age from afar and can more easily identify a driver holding a phone to his ear than using a phone in his lap. Drivers may also feel an officer would be able to identify them holding a phone to their ear than texting in their lap.

While enacting and enforcing cellphone laws is one way to curtail these behaviors, it may not be the only solution. Cellphone use while driving is a complex social phenomenon, especially for teens and young adults. More work needs to be done not only to develop and enforce effective laws but also to develop and implement best practices for preventing -related driving injuries, which may include behavior change programs, education, and/or interventions.

Explore further: State laws dampen texting by teen drivers but rates still high

Related Stories

State laws dampen texting by teen drivers but rates still high

April 25, 2015
State laws banning texting while driving led to significant reductions in the number of teens using their cell phones while behind the wheel, but nearly one-third still admitted to engaging in this risky behavior, according ...

Researchers encourage legislation that covers drivers of all ages to keep roadways safer

December 12, 2016
Distracted driving is a prevalent safety hazard for everyone, but especially for drivers in their first several years behind the wheel. A new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute ...

Texting bans tied to drop in car crash injuries

April 3, 2015
(HealthDay)—Most U.S. states now have bans on texting while driving, and those laws may be preventing some serious traffic accidents, a new study suggests.

Recommended for you

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Colder, darker climates increase alcohol consumption and liver disease

November 14, 2018
Where you live could influence how much you drink. According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than their ...

Survey reveals how we use music as a possible sleep aid

November 14, 2018
Many individuals use music in the hope that it fights sleep difficulties, according to a study published November 14 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tabitha Trahan of the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.