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Rudisill TM, Zhu M. Hand-held cell phone use while driving legislation and observed driver behavior among population sub-groups in the United States. BMC Public Health. 2017;17(1):437.

Thursday, July 6, 2017



Cell phone use behaviors are known to vary across demographic sub-groups and geographic locations. This study examined whether universal hand-held calling while driving bans were associated with lower road-side observed hand-held cell phone conversations across drivers of different ages (16–24, 25–59, ≥60 years), sexes, races (White, African American, or other), ruralities (suburban, rural, or urban), and regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West).


Data from the 2008–2013 National Occupant Protection Use Survey were merged with states’ cell phone use while driving legislation. The exposure was presence of a universal hand-held cell phone ban at time of observation. Logistic regression was used to assess the odds of drivers having a hand-held cell phone conversation. Sub-groups differences were assessed using models with interaction terms.


When universal hand-held cell phone bans were effective, hand-held cell phone conversations were lower across all driver demographic sub-groups and regions. Sub-group differences existed among the sexes (p-value, <0.0001) and regions (p-value, 0.0003). Compared to states without universal hand-held cell phone bans, the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of a driver hand-held phone conversation was 0.34 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.28, 0.41] for females versus 0.47 (CI 0.40, 0.55) for males and 0.31 (CI 0.25, 0.38) for drivers in Western states compared to 0.47 (CI 0.30, 0.72) in the Northeast and 0.50 (CI 0.38, 0.66) in the South.


The presence of universal hand-held cell phone bans were associated lower hand-held cell phone conversations across all driver sub-groups and regions. Hand-held phone conversations were particularly lower among female drivers and those from Western states when these bans were in effect. Public health interventions concerning hand-held cell phone use while driving could reasonably target all drivers.