Research Papers

Evaluating the effectiveness of Ontario's Handheld Device Ban

Version 1
Date added June 28, 2017
Downloaded 0 times/fois
Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 7A
Author/Auteur Maryam Haya
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation
Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)



In Ontario, collisions and injuries over the past few decades have been consistently decreasing, both in absolute terms as well as the rate per 10,000 licenced drivers. Collisions and injuries related to inattentive driving, however, are on the rise. According to 2013 collision data, fatalities related to inattentive driving have more than doubled since the year 2000. Electronic device and cell phone use has become increasingly ubiquitous in recent years contributing to higher prevalence of inattentive drivers. It is well established that the use of handheld electronic communication and entertainment devices while driving causes inattention and greatly increases collision risk. To address this issue, in February 2010, Ontario introduced a law banning the use of handheld devices by drivers. The implementation of the ban was preceded by a four-month educational period. An evaluation of the handheld ban is needed in order to determine its effectiveness in reducing collisions related to inattentive driving and changing driver behaviour, as well as to inform future policy directions regarding inattentive driving in Ontario. Using five full years of collision data before and after the ban was implemented; the primary objective of this study is to determine whether, and to what extent, Ontario's inattentive driving law has had an impact on inattentive driving collisions and injuries. The study will also assess the impact of the ban on driver behaviour through self-reports on cellphone use while driving. A time series analysis will be conducted using ten years of Ontario's collision data, from 2005 to 2014, to determine whether statistically significant changes in inattention-related collisions and injuries occurred before and after the enforcement of the handheld ban. Collisions that are not related to inattentive driving will be excluded from the analysis (i.e. alcohol and drug-related) in order to robustly capture time trends specific to inattentive driving. Analyses will further be augmented by determining changes in driver behaviour with regards to frequency of both handheld and hands free cellphone use while driving using self-reported data in the year prior to and after the implementation of the ban. The data will be derived from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and are available for 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014. Results are to be determined. A strength and unique contribution of this study will be the simultaneous analysis of collision and survey data, which will provide an in-depth understanding of the effectiveness of the law on both road safety outcomes and driver behaviour. A limitation of the study is that cellphone use is not specified on collision reports, rather is captured in the broader field of inattentive driving, which can include other activities such as eating and grooming. Attempts will be made to control for exogenous trends in inattentive driving as much as possible. The large-scale time series data will provide robust evidence on the effectiveness of Ontario's handheld device ban, and help to inform future policy decisions regarding distracted driving. None at this time.

Maryam Haya