Relative Burden of Distracted Driving Fatalities by Characteristic


We were glad to see discussion of the dangers of distracted driving to vulnerable road users in the article by Stimpson et al. in the November/December 2013 issue of Public Health Reports. However, we question the conclusion that pedestrian and bicyclist victims of distracted driving crashes are disproportionately nonHispanic white. This inference appears to be drawn from the results in Table 1 of the article, where the rates are calculated per one million total population, which fails to account for the different sizes of the populations of each race/ethnicity. To correctly evaluate the rate of fatal crashes for a particular race/ethnicity (e.g., non-Hispanic white people), it is necessary to normalize by the pertinent population—non-Hispanic white people—rather than the total population. A similar rule applies to selecting a denominator for the other rates in the table. As it is, the values in Table 1 of Stimpson et al. provide little information on the relative burden of fatal crashes among different groups. In the revised table we have provided, we computed the rates for the race/ethnicity category according to the average intercensal estimates of population by race during the six-year period of interest. We also provide the corresponding section of the original table for comparison. The revised results indicate that there is significantly less variation among racial/ ethnic groups.

Publication date: 
July 1, 2014
Publication type: 
Journal Article