Effect of mobile phone proliferation on crash notification times and fatality rates

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether increased proliferation of mobile telephones has been associated with decreased MVC notification times and/or decreased MVC fatality rates in the United States (US).


We used World Bank annual mobile phone market penetration data and US Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) fatal MVC data for 1994–2014. For each year, phone proliferation was measured as mobile phones per 100 population. FARS data were used to calculate MVC notification time (time EMS notified – time MVC occurred) in minutes, and to determine the MVC fatality rate per billion vehicle miles traveled (BVMT). We used basic vector auto-regression modeling to explore relationships between changes in phone proliferation and subsequent changes in median and 90th percentile MVC notification times, as well as MVC fatality rates.


From 1994 to 2014, larger year-over-year increases in phone proliferation were associated with larger decreases in 90th percentile notification times for MVCs occurring during daylight hours (p = 0.004) and on the national highway system (p = 0.046) two years subsequent, and crashes off the national highway system three years subsequent (p = 0.023). There were no significant associations between changes in phone proliferation and subsequent changes in median crash notification times, nor with subsequent changes in MVC fatality rates.


Between 1994 and 2014 increased mobile phone proliferation in the U.S. was associated with shorter 90th percentile EMS notification times for some subgroups of fatal MVCs, but not with decreases in median notification times or overall MVC fatality rates.

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