According to the newly released 2018 Distracted Driving Snapshot from Zendrive, over 60 percent of people use their phones at least once while behind the wheel on an average day. Based on US Census data, this means that at least 69 million drivers use their phones while driving. Previous National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates suggested that during daylight hours, approximately 660,000 people use cell phones while driving. The reality is more than 100 times worse than this previous estimate.
Zendrive studied driver phone use from December 2017 through February 2018, analyzing anonymized data from 4.5 million drivers who covered 7.1 billion miles on the road. Phone use while driving was tracked when the car was moving and the phone handled by the driver for various purposes such as talking, texting, or navigating. Zendrive did not include phone use data in the study for when the vehicle was stopped, parked, or otherwise idle.
Zendrive’s 2018 Distracted Driving Snapshot is a follow-up study to a similar report released by the company in 2017. When comparing the new data to the data collected for the 2017 report, Zendrive found that distracted driving increased in every state except Vermont. It also increased in every city and metropolitan area that was studied.
Other findings of the study include:
Nationwide, Zendrive found more driver phone use in the 2018 study than in the 2017 study:
- Distracted driving increased in every state, except for Vermont.
- Driver phone use also increased in every city we studied.
- The average duration of phone use also increased.
- At any given hour of the day, an average of 40% of drivers use their phone at least once. (This average goes up to 72% of drivers when looking at drivers who use their phone at least once between 10am-5pm.)
Overall, drivers use their phones for an average of 1-minute, 52-seconds of every hour behind the wheel. At 55 mph, this is like driving 1.2-miles blindfolded, or the length of 21 football fields. However, this stat also takes into account the drivers who don’t use their phones at all. When looking only at drivers who use their phones at least once, this average doubles, shooting up to 3-minutes, 40-seconds of every hour. At 55 mph, this is like 42 football fields blindfolded. Dangerous indeed!
The vast majority of phone use is in the first 5% of a trip, right when people are getting going. The worst time overall for distracted driving is at night, from 9pm to midnight, when drivers use their phones for an average of 30 seconds longer — an increase of 20%. And holidays are even worse. During Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day we found drivers use their phones 15% (or 9 seconds) more than average.
- The average amount of phone use behind the wheel has increased 3 minutes and 40 seconds; this is an increase of 10 seconds from 2017.
- Vermont is the only state saw a reduction in driver phone use: The 2018 study showed that drivers in the Green Mountain State spent 6.54% of their time behind the wheel on their phones; this is down from 7.42% in 2017.
- Oregon remained the least distracted state: While they maintained the top spot in Zendrive’s state-by-state rankings for least distracted state, Oregon saw an increase in driver phone use to 5.24%; up from 3.69% in 2017
- Phone bans have little impact on phone use: 16 states ban drivers from using handheld phones, but even in nearly all of these states, phone use is on the rise
- Phone use occurs most often at the start of each trip: The majority of driver phone use is in the first 5 percent of the drive, when drivers are transitioning to the vehicle operation
“The data collected in our latest study reveals a great deal about the behavior of drivers who use their phones when their eyes should be on the road,” said Jonathan Matus, Zendrive CEO and co-founder. “If drivers can remember to send that last text, set their map destination, or cue up their favorite playlist before they back out of the driveway, they can help to keep the roads safer for everyone.”
Check out 8 smart tips to reduce distracted driving
- Hands free – Put your phone in a mount or cup holder while driving. Keep it out of your hands, and stay focused on the road.
- Set up your music and maps – The majority of phone use happens in the first 10% of a trip. Take an extra moment to get your technology in order before putting the car in drive.
- Finish up before heading out – Send one last text to let your friend know you’re getting behind the wheel and need to put the phone down.
- Airplane mode for phones – Use Do Not Disturb mode to block incoming messages, let people know you’re driving and that you’ll be in touch later. iOS 11 devices come with this functionality, while Android users can use an app.
- A little help from my friends – Designated drivers help us all get home safely after drinking. If you have passengers, ask them to help you navigate, change the music or respond to texts.
- Lock it up – Put your phone somewhere you can’t peek at it, like the trunk, backseat or glove compartment.
- Drive time, Zen time – Is a text worth your life, or that of someone else on the road? I didn’t think so. Be patient, and wait until you arrive to read your texts.
- Be the example – Speak up if you see someone driving while distracted. Tell them you’re uncomfortable with that behavior. Teach your children to speak up when they see you or a friend distracted behind the wheel.