Texting While Driving: Does the New Law Work Among Healthcare Providers?
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Texting While Driving: Does the New Law Work Among Healthcare Providers?

  • Author(s): Mathew, Anitha Elizabeth
  • Houry, Debra
  • Dente, Christopher J
  • Salomone, Jeffrey P
  • et al.

Objectives: This study assessed whether Georgia Senate Bill 360, a statewide law passed in August, 2010, that prohibits text messaging while driving, resulted in a decrease in this behavior among emergency medicine (EM) and general surgery (GS) healthcare providers.

Methods: SurveyMonkey was used to create a web-based survey containing up to 28 multiple choice and free-text questions about driving behaviors. EM and GS healthcare providers at a southeastern medical school and its affiliate county hospital received an email inviting them to complete this survey in February, 2011. All analyses were conducted in SPSS (version 19.0, Chicago, IL, 2010), using chi-squared tests and logistic regression models. The primary outcome of interest was a change in participant texting or emailing while driving after passage of the texting ban in Georgia.

Results: Two hundred and twenty-six providers completed the entire survey (response rate 46.8%). Participants ranged in age from 23 to 71 years, with an average age of 38 (SD=10.2; median=35).

Only three-quarters of providers (n=173, 76.6%) were aware of a texting ban in the state. Out of these, 60 providers (36.6%) reported never or rarely sending texts while driving (0 to 2 times per year), and 30 engaged in this behavior almost daily (18.9%). Almost two-thirds of this group reported no change in texting while driving following passage of the texting ban (n=110, 68%), while 53 respondents texted less (31.8%).

Respondents younger than 40 were more than twice as likely to report no change in texting post-ban compared to older participants (OR=2.31, p=0.014). Providers who had been pulled over for speeding in the previous five years were about 2.5 times as likely to not change their texting while driving behavior following legislation passage compared to those without a history of police stops for speeding (OR=2.55, p=0.011). Each additional ticket received in the past 5 years for a moving violation lessened the odds of reporting a decrease in texting by 45%. (OR=0.553, p=0.007).

Conclusion: EM and GS providers, particularly those who are younger, have received more tickets for moving violations, and with a history of police stops for speeding, exhibit limited compliance with distracted driving laws, despite first-hand exposure to the motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving.

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