EMF Health-effects Research

Cellular phones and fatal traffic collisions.

Violanti JM

Accid Anal Prev 30(4):519-524, 1998

A case-control study was conducted to determine statistical associations between traffic fatalities and the use or presence of a cellular phone, given involvement in a collision.

The hypothesis of this study does not imply that cellular phones directly affect fatalities, but that phones increase the risk of certain accident characteristics in fatal collisions more than those same characteristics in non-fatal collisions. Analysis employed data from 223,137 traffic accidents occurring between 1992 and 1995. Information on collision characteristics and cellular phone involvement for each fatality was compared with the same information for each non-fatality (controls).

Statistically adjusting for other collision variables (age, gender, alcohol use, speed, inattention and driving left of center), an approximate nine-fold increased risk was found for a fatality given the use of a cellular phone. An approximate two-fold increased risk for a fatality was found given the presence of a cellular phone in the vehicle. Combined effects of reported phone use, driving to the left of center and inattention increased the risk of a fatal collision more than phone use did by itself.

This analysis implies a statistical, but not necessarily a causal, relationship. A multitude of factors are involved in any traffic collision, and the exact cause of an accident and its severity level is difficult to disentangle.

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