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Accid Anal Prev. 2018 Jun;115:25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2018.03.008. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

Association between mobile phone traffic volume and road crash fatalities: A population-based case-crossover study.

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INAIL, Department of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Via Fontana Candida 1, 00040, Monteporzio Catone (RM), Italy. Electronic address:
Department of Epidemiology, Lazio Regional Health Service, Rome, Italy.
Italian National Institute of Statistics, Rome, Italy.
INAIL, Department of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Via Fontana Candida 1, 00040, Monteporzio Catone (RM), Italy.


Use of mobile phones while driving is known to cause crashes with possible fatalities. Different habits of mobile phone use might be distracting forces and display differential impacts on accident risk; the assessment of the relative importance is relevant to implement prevention, mitigation, and control measures. This study aimed to assess the relationship between the use of mobile phones at population level and road crash fatalities in large urban areas. Data on road crashes with fatalities were collected from seven Italian metropolitan areas and matched in time and space with high resolution mobile phone traffic volume data about calls, texts, Internet connections and upload/download data. A case-crossover study design was applied to estimate the relative risks of road accident for increases in each type of mobile phone traffic volumes in underlying population present in the small areas where accidents occurred. Effect modification was evaluated by weekday/weekend, hour of the day, meteorological conditions, and street densities. Positive associations between road crashes rates and the number of calls, texts, and Internet connections were found, with incremental risks of 17.2% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 7.7, 27.6), 8.4% (CI 0.7, 16.8), and 54.6% (CI 34.0, 78.5) per increases (at 15 min intervals) of 5 calls/100 people, 3 text/100 people, and 40 connections/100 people, respectively. Small differences across cities were detected. Working days, nighttime and morning hours were associated with greater phone use and more road accidents. The relationship between mobile phone use and road fatalities at population level is strong. Strict controls on cellular phone in the vehicle may results in a large health benefit.


Cell phones; Internet; Road accident; Talking; Texting; Urban

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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