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Cell Phone Use While Driving: Policy Analysis Essay

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Updated: Apr 28th, 2021

A ban on the use of cellphones while driving can have significant benefits. It has potential life-saving effects by reducing morbidity and injury. In states introducing a legislative ban on the use of cellphones while driving, the rate of observed hand-held phone conversations dropped significantly by 24-76%. Collision rates related to phone use decreased slightly but were not statistically significant. However, states with cellphone bans for all drivers showed significantly lower car fatality rates. In turn, this reduces associated healthcare costs, lost productivity, and other public safety hazards (McCartt, Kidd, & Teoh, 2014). The costs of such bans are difficult to estimate. The only direct cost may be additional expenses to the law enforcement and judicial system in enforcing the ban and punishing offenders. However, some indirect costs may be associated with welfare losses that citizens lose out on due to the inability to communicate. These include social networking, business opportunities, and emotional distress (Lissy, Cohen, Park, & Graham, 2000). It is the aspect that is difficult to classify on a broad policy level.

Using Cost-Benefit Effectiveness Analysis helps to compare financial costs to benefits of a particular policy directly. Expenses of policy enforcement and media campaigns to raise awareness are relatively simple to predict based on the extent of the ban, both in population and area. Others such as lost consumer surplus can be calculated based on annual usage of cell-phone airtime and estimated volumes of driving in the population. In turn, cost offsets are determined by calculating savings within the medical system and productivity lost due to car accidents. Furthermore, an important aspect in this analysis would be calculating quality-adjusted life year (QALY) which is a measure used to determine the burden of specific aspect on the quality and quantity of life lived by a person (Sperber, Shiell, & Fyie, 2010).

Therefore, in a public policy debate, proponents of regulation would argue that per capita healthcare savings and resulting QALY measures are significant enough to justify a ban on the use of private cellphones in driving conditions. Meanwhile, opponents would argue that potential economic losses and personal distress are large enough to justify any potential reduction of QALY within a population, proposing that other solutions should be presented instead of an outright legislative ban. Although seemingly insensible, a price on human life is a widespread practice in many countries. Each citizen is an inherent user of such national resources as healthcare. Such measurements as QALY, help to determine the financial value of human life in order to guide public policy effectively.

References

Lissy, K. S., Cohen, J. T., Park, M. Y., & Graham, J. D. (2000). . Web.

McCartt, A. T., Kidd, D. G., & Teoh, E. R. (2014). Driver cellphone and texting bans in the United States: Evidence of effectiveness. Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine, 58, 99–114.

Sperber, D., Shiell, A., & Fyie, K. (2010). The cost-effectiveness of a law banning the use of cellular phones by drivers. Health Economics, 19, 1212-1225. doi:10.1002/hec.1546.

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IvyPanda. "Cell Phone Use While Driving: Policy Analysis." April 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cell-phone-use-while-driving-policy-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cell Phone Use While Driving: Policy Analysis." April 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cell-phone-use-while-driving-policy-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cell Phone Use While Driving: Policy Analysis'. 28 April.

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