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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 5 No. 2 (April 2013)

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Texting Bans and Fatal Accidents on Roadways: Do They Work? Or Do Drivers Just React to Announcements of Bans?

Article Citation

Abouk, Rahi, and Scott Adams. 2013. "Texting Bans and Fatal Accidents on Roadways: Do They Work? Or Do Drivers Just React to Announcements of Bans?" American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(2): 179-99.

DOI: 10.1257/app.5.2.179

Abstract

Since 2007, many states passed laws prohibiting text messaging while driving. Using vehicular fatality data from across the United States and standard difference-in-differences techniques, bans appear moderately successful at reducing single-vehicle, single-occupant accidents if bans are universally applied and enforced as a primary offense. Bans enforced as secondary offenses, however, have at best no effect on accidents. Any reduction in accidents following texting bans is short-lived, however, with accidents returning to near former levels within a few months. This is suggestive of drivers reacting to the announcement of the legislation only to return to old habits shortly afterward. (JEL D12, K42, R41)

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Authors

Abouk, Rahi (U WI, Milwaukee)
Adams, Scott (U WI, Milwaukee)

JEL Classifications

D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
K42: Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
R41: Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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