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School of Public Health




Purpose—The relationship between cellphone use while driving legislation and self-reported adolescent driver behavior is poorly understood, especially across demographic subgroups. This study investigated the relationship between statewide cellphone legislation and cellphone use behaviors across adolescent driver subgroups, including age (16/17 vs. 18), sex, race/ethnicity (white non-Hispanic and others), and rurality (urban or rural). Methods—Data from the 2011–2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index Surveys were combined with state legislation. The outcomes were self-reported texting and handheld cellphone conversations. The exposure was the presence of a texting or handheld cellphone ban applicable to all drivers (i.e., universal) in the drivers’ state of residence. A multilevel, modified Poisson regression model was used to estimate the risk of engaging in these behaviors. Results—Approximately 34% of respondents reported to have driven while conversing, and 37% texted and drove in the 30 days before the survey. Universal handheld calling bans were associated with lower occurrences of cellphone conversations across all groups except rural drivers. Overall, handheld cellphone bans were associated with 55% lower (adjusted risk ratio .45, 95% confidence interval .32–.63) occurrences of cellphone conversations. However, universal texting bans were not associated with fewer texting behaviors in any subgroup. Conclusions—Universal handheld calling bans may discourage adolescents from engaging in handheld phone conversations, whereas universal texting bans may not fully discourage texting behaviors. More interventional or educational work is necessary, particularly addressing texting while driving.

Source Citation

Rudisill TM, Smith G, Chu H, Zhu M. Cellphone Legislation and Self-Reported Behaviors Among Subgroups of Adolescent U.S. Drivers. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2018;62(5):618-625. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.12.001