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This commentary about the Flaherty et al study, both published in the May 2020 issue of Pediatrics, agrees that the lower incidence of fatal crashes for 16- to 19-year-old drivers in states with primarily enforced texting bans is encouraging since previous research examining the association between cell phone bans and lower rates of fatal crashes in teen drivers showed mixed results.
Both mobile phone conversation and text messaging increased rates of (pedestrian) hits and close calls. Texting decreased rates of looking left and right prior to and/or during street crossing.
The analyses found that 41% of the association between manual cellphone use and teenagers’ crash risk was mediated by the duration of eyes off the road. … The remaining 59% of the association between manual cellphone use and crash risk may be attributed to the physical demands of operating the phone while driving and possibly additional cognitive load that the driver endures.
The majority of U.S. teens admit to handheld cell phone use while driving, an increasingly common cause of crashes. The researchers examined teens’ willingness to reduce cell phone use while driving and perceptions of potential strategies to limit this behavior via a survey. Their findings were published in Traffic Injury Prevention in April 2018.