Car Accidents and 3G Coverage: New Evidence Using Cell Phone Tower Construction
44 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 14, 2019
We examine the relationship between the growth of 3G cellular coverage and traffic accidents in California between 2001 and 2013. Using machine learning techniques to predict historical 3G coverage, we find that car accident rates increase after 3G coverage is introduced, controlling for traffic volume and road fixed effects. The accidents most responsive to 3G coverage are non-severe crashes that take place in highly trafficked areas. Accidents caused by drivers over 65 do not change in response to 3G coverage. In contrast to previous research examining cell phone laws, we find a positive relationship between accidents and cell phone use.
Keywords: cellular phone coverage, car accidents, machine learning, random forest
JEL Classification: R41, C52, O33
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