Cell Phone Use and Crash Risk: Evidence for Positive Bias

This article provides data from a research study on cell phone use by the driver and the associated risk of crashing a vehicle. The author notes that recent epidemiologic studies have estimated little or no increased risk of automotive crashes related to cell phone conversations by the driver. This is in juxtaposition to earlier studies that estimated a risk of crashing at nearly four-fold that of no cell phone use by the driver. The author reports on a study of 439 GPS-instrumented vehicles in the Puget Sound (Washington State) area across a period of 100 days in 2005-2006. Driving exposures in a “control” window and a corresponding “case” window on the subsequent day were tabulated. The study showed that for control windows containing at least some driving, driving exposure was about one-fourth that of case windows. Adjusting for this imbalance reduces relative risk estimates in the earlier case-crossover studies from 4 to 1. The author concludes by hypothesizing that earlier case-crossover studies may have overestimated the relative risk for cell phone conversations while driving by implicitly assuming that driving during a control window was full-time when it may have been only part-time.


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  • Accession Number: 01536663
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 18 2013 9:26AM