EMF Health-effects Research

Cellular phones and traffic accidents: an epidemiological approach.

Violanti JM, Marshall JR

Accid Anal Prev 28(2):265-270, 1996

Using epidemiological case-control design and logistic regression techniques, this study examined the association of cellular phone use in motor vehicles and traffic accident risk. The amount of time per month spent talking on a cellular phone and 18 other driver inattention factors were examined. Data were obtained from: (1) a case group of 100 randomly selected drivers involved in accidents within the past 2 years, and (2) a control group of 100 randomly selected licensed drivers not involved in accidents within the past 10 years. Groups were matched on geographic residence.

Approximately 13% (N = 7) of the accident and 9% (N = 7) of the non-accident group reported use of cellular phones while driving. Data was obtained from Department of Motor Vehicles accident reports and survey information from study subjects.

We hypothesized that increased use of cellular phones while driving was associated with increased odds of a traffic accident. Results indicated that talking more than 50 minutes per month on cellular phones in a vehicle was associated with a 5.59-fold increased risk in a traffic accident. The combined use of cellular phones and motor and cognitive activities while driving were also associated with increased traffic accident risk.

Readers should be cautioned that this study: (1) consists of a small sample, (2) reveals statistical associations and not causal relationships, and (3) does not conclude that talking on cellular phones while driving is inherently dangerous.

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