BACKGROUND: Distracted driving among teens is a public health and safety concern. Most states in the U.S. have sought to restrict cellphone use while driving by enacting laws. This study examines the difference in prevalence of self-reported calling while driving (CWD) between states with different cellphone bans.
METHODS: Demographics and CWD data were extracted from state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) from 14 states in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. The state YRBS is conducted every 2 years with a representative sample of 9th through 12th grade students attending public school. States were grouped by type of cellphone law(s): no ban (the absence of both handheld calling ban and young driver ban), young driver ban (a ban on all forms of cellphone use while driving, for young drivers only), or concurrent ban (a young driver ban plus a ban on handheld calling for all drivers irrespective of age). Poisson regression models with robust variance were used to estimate prevalence ratios comparing CWD prevalence across ban types.
RESULTS: In total, 157,423 high school students participated in the surveys, and 65,044 (45%) participants reached the minimum age to obtain an intermediate license and drove during the 30 days prior the survey. Approximately 53% of participants reported CWD at least once during the previous 30 days, and the percentages varied widely by states (range: 51-55%). Compared to students from states with no ban, those from states with concurrent bans were 19%(95% CI: 14-24%) less likely to engage in CWD. Students in states with concurrent bans were 23% less likely to engage in CWD compared to students in states with young driver bans (95% CI:17-27%).
CONCLUSIONS: Engaging in CWD is common among teen drivers. The concurrent implementation of a handheld calling ban and a young driver ban was associated with a lower prevalence of CWD.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health [R01HD074594, 2013–2022].
The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are available in the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System website.
Li, Li; Pope, Caitlin N.; Andridge, Rebecca R.; Bower, Julie K.; Hu, Guoqing; and Zhu, Motao, "Cellphone Laws and Teens' Calling While Driving: Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Surveys in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019" (2020). Graduate Center for Gerontology Faculty Publications. 7.