Distracted Drivers Send Text, Check Notification & Video Chat

Generation X1 is more likely to use their phone when driving than younger generations (Millennials2 and Gen-Z3) according to a wide ranging survey of Americans, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo Car USA. Findings revealed an alarming majority of Americans still use their phone while driving (71 percent), and identified Gen-X (parents of Gen-Z) as the most prevalent distracted drivers.

The full results are published in Volvo Reports: Finding Focus on the Road, the fourth in a series of Volvo Reports from Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll, that explores the ever-changing relationship between Americans and their car. This edition explored the causes of distracted driving and what groups are most prone to dangerous practices.

The vast majority agree that we need better education around the impact of distracted driving (89%), and that vehicle manufacturers should do more to minimize distractions in the car (81%). 74% say they would even pay more for a vehicle with built-in features to correct or prevent distractions on the road.

“Distracted driving is not unique to younger generations. In fact, it’s a problem we are seeing across generations and demographics,” said Jim Nichols, Product, Technology & Brand Communications Senior Manager for Volvo Car USA.

Many of those surveyed feel there are more driving distractions today than there were five years ago. More than half of Americans (55 percent) feel the top threat to safety on the road is driving distracted, compared to driving under the influence (31 percent).

Others are looking to increase safety behind the wheel by using voice commands, which allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road. The vast majority agree that it’s safer for drivers to use voice commands to activate or control their vehicle’s features, rather than manually doing so (84%). Three in four say the roads would be much safer if all vehicles had voice command capabilities (75%) and that they expect to use the technology more in the next five years than they do now (74%).

When it comes to specific applications, more than half say they would use voice command technology for the navigation or GPS (51%). Parents in particular see the value in using voice commands to minimize distractions from their phones – they are at least 10% more likely than non-parents to say they would use voice commands to dial, send texts, have texts read to them and connect their phones to the car via Bluetooth.

Additional highlights from the research included:

  • Gen-X and Millennials consistently outpace Zs in phone usage across multiple activities.
    • Parents are primary culprits of using their phones behind the wheel (73% vs. 66% overall).
    • One in three parents admit to using their phones often when their kids are with them.
  • Many Americans (64%) are looking for ways to cut down on the distractions; among Gen-Z that number rises to 89%
    • 33% of Americans drive in silence to minimize distractions and 32% turn phone on “do not disturb” to eliminate notifications

The majority of Americans (71%) admit they use their phones while driving, mostly to talk (93%) and dial (74%).

But over half of Americans say they engage in activities that take their eyes off the road for even longer, like sending texts (60%) and checking notifications (56%), while one in four say they video chat while driving (22%). Two-thirds (66%) don’t let their phones out of sight while driving, keeping them in arm’s reach.

Volvo, the longtime leader in vehicle safety, is committed to helping solve the problem by integrating category-leading features across design, safety and comfort intended to reduce distraction and protect drivers and others on the road.

Volvo vehicles include standard voice command capabilities and Bluetooth integration, allowing for hands-free control and communication. With one of the most robust voice control systems on the market, drivers are given hands-free control of media, navigation, temperature and more.

All of these fuctions combine toward Volvo’s Vision 2020, which states that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by year 2020.

This report is the fourth in a series of Volvo Reports from Volvo Car USA and Harris Poll designed to uncover insights into the American opinion across four core themes: design, safety, technology and environment.


The national survey, Volvo Reports: Finding Focus on the Road was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo among 2,035 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, with whom 1,665 are drivers, from June 5-7, 2018. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no esti­mate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.