Effectiveness of cell phone restrictions for young drivers,review of the evidence

Johnathon P. Ehsani, Edward Ionides, Sheila G. Klauer, Jessamyn G. Perlus, Benjamin T. Gee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This research summarized the effect of cell phone restrictions on the prevalence of cell phone use and motor vehicle crashes involving young drivers. Multiple databases were searched with the use of terms related to cell phone restrictions, the prevalence of cell phone use, crashes, and young drivers. Fifty-Three abstracts were reviewed. Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Six studies examined changes in the prevalence of cell phone use before and after a restriction was imposed; five studies used changes in crash rates as the outcome. The majority of prevalence studies found no change in young drivers' cell phone use following the introduction of a restriction. Crash studies using multistate samples reported significant reductions in fatal crashes; single-state studies reported no change or small increases in crashes. Restrictions appeared to have no long-Term effect on the prevalence of cell phone use among novice drivers. Conflicting findings from crash studies reflected differences in analytical approaches, limitations of existing data, and the challenges of quantifying the effect of young-driver restrictions in the presence of all-driver restrictions. Overall, evidence of the effectiveness of young drivers' cell phone restrictions is inconclusive. There are relatively few studies, and the methodological limitations of the existing studies revealed no clear pattern of effects. Additional studies are needed to distinguish novice drivers (16-To 17-year olds) from experienced young drivers and to use distraction-related crashes as an outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Record
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this