Penalties and Public Education Campaigns: An Analysis of U.S. States' Policy Efforts to Prevent Cell Phone Related Distracted Driving Fatalities
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Existing literature on U.S. states’ policy efforts to prevent cell phone related distracted riving fatalities currently lacks a comprehensive quantitative analysis on the effects of penalty severity and public education campaigns. This article contributes to the existing research by using Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Poisson regression models to measure the effect of penalty severity and state public education efforts on cell phone related distracted driving fatality rates. The results indicate the following policies as being associated with statistically significant reductions in fatalities: higher penalties for texting while driving, public education campaigns that utilize social media, campaign taglines and state agency partnerships such as those with universities to conduct research and employers to develop distracted driving policies. These results can inform policymakers in both state legislatures and agencies that are interested in combating cell phone related distracted driving fatality rates.