Evaluating the causal effects of cellphone distraction on crash risk using propensity score methods

Auteur(s)
Lu, D.; Guo, F.; Li, F.
Jaar

This paper evaluates the causal effects of cellphone distraction on traffic crashes using propensity score weighting approaches and naturalistic driving study (NDS) data. Three propensity score weighting approaches were adoprted to estimate the causal odds ratio (OR) of cellphone use on three different event-populations, including average treatment effect (ATE) on the whole population, average treatment effect on the treated population (ATT), and average treatment effect on the overlapping population (ATO). Three types of cellphone distractions are evaluated: overall cellphone use, talking, and visual-manual tasks. The propensity scores are estimated based on driver, roadway, and environmental characteristics. The Second Strategic Highway Research Program NDS data used in this study include 3400 participant drivers with 1047 severe crashes and 19,798 random case-cohort control driving segments.
The study reveals several highly imbalanced potential confounding factors among cellphone use groups, e.g., income, age, and time of day, which could lead to biased risk estimation. All three propensity score approaches improve the balance of the baseline characteristics. The propensity score adjusted ORs differ from unweighted ORs substantially, ranging from −44.25% to 54.88%. Specifically, the adjusted ORs for young drivers are higher than unweighted ORs and these for middle-age drivers are lower. Among different cellphone related distractions, the ORs associated with visual-manual tasks (OR range: 3.47–6.63) are uniformly higher than overall cellphone distraction and cellphone talking (OR range: 0.63–4.15). Cellphone talking increases the risk for young drivers but has no significant impact on middle-age drivers.
The study concludes that propensity score approaches effectively mitigate potential confounding effect caused by imbalanced driver environmental characteristics in the observational NDS data. The ATT and ATO estimands are recommended for NDS case-cohort studies. ATT reflects the effect among exposed events, i.e. crashes or controls with cellphone exposure and ATO reflects the effect among events with similar characteristics. The study confirms the significant causal effect of overall cellphone distraction on crash risk and the heterogeneity in safety impact by age group.

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Pagina's
9
Verschenen in
Accident Analysis & Prevention
143 (art. 105579)
Bibliotheeknummer
20220088 ST [electronic version only]

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