Distracted Driving Worsens Post COVID-19

Netradyne, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) technology focusing on driver and commercial fleet safety, today announced findings from a recent online survey of non-commercial drivers that explores attitudes and behaviors toward distracted driving. Conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Netradyne, the survey indicates there is a growing perception that driving is becoming less safe overall, with a particular concern that distractions are on the rise, with drinking liquids (35 percent) being the most common and social media (67 percent) as the most severe distraction. Results of Netradyne’s survey show that 1 in 5 drivers have personally received points on their license or a fine, while 1 in 7 drivers have suffered an injury or lost a vehicle due to a collision, as a result of distracted driving.

The results are important as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted across the country and Americans return to the roads for work and an anticipated increase in summer driving due to concerns about other forms of transportation. Drivers are taking to the roads opting to travel in their personal vehicles in lieu of public transit and airplane travel. While the volume of traffic might not be near pre-pandemic levels, there is some indication that the roads will be popular for personal auto travel this summer and potentially beyond. Recent research revealed 46 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in the next year.

The advent of summer also signifies the end of school which is historically a time when more teenagers are on the road. AAA refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “100 Deadliest Days” when more teenagers are more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.

Distracted driving continues to be a contributing factor in fatal car crashes though timely data is challenging to detect and collect. In 2017, research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that nine percent of fatal crashes¬†“were reported as distracted-affected crashes.”

“Unfortunately, distracted driving continues to be responsible for a significant number of accidents and fatalities, but many of these infractions are within a driver’s control and can be avoided through proper driver training and driver safety technology,” said Avneesh Agrawal, chief executive officer of Netradyne. “At Netradyne, we’re bringing our vision-based and AI-driven technology to help improve the roads for all drivers.”

Key findings from Netradyne’s survey:

Perceptions of safety

  • 50 percent feel that driving is becoming less safe overall with 82 percent concerned that distractions are on the rise.
  • 91 percent consider themselves a safe driver while almost half (49 percent) agree they could be a safer driver.
  • Less than half (42 percent) consider commercial drivers who transport goods to be safe drivers, with a fifth considering them unsafe. Commercial drivers who transport passengers are considered the safest overall.
  • Drivers of sports cars (47 percent) are most likely to be considered unsafe, compared with only 21 percent of RV/campervan drivers.

Distracted driving behaviors

  • The top five most regular distractions experienced while driving are drinking liquids (35 percent), adjusting in-car audio (29 percent), fiddling with controls (25 percent), events outside the vehicle (18 percent) and other passengers talking (16 percent). Events outside of the vehicle and passengers talking are considered to be both regular and relatively distracting.
  • Distracted behaviors involving games on smartphones are rare but considered highly distracting when they do occur. Over 60 percent of drivers who have accessed social media, played smartphone games or sent a text / email while driving agree that it distracted them.
  • Drivers rarely take steps to reduce distractions from their phones. Just 12 percent regularly turn their phone off when they drive and only 19 percent regularly switch off their ringtone / notifications.

Impact of smart technology

  • Over half (51 percent) of the drivers surveyed feel that smart technology has had a positive impact on safety, yet there is still some resistance to smart technologies as 30 percent believe they’ve had a negative impact on safety. This is driven by the concern that drivers are becoming over-reliant on using technology to make judgements for them (20 percent), as well as concern that new smart technologies themselves can be distracting (19 percent).

AI gaining acceptance

  • In terms of priority, drivers are most interested in technology which can reduce distractions that force them to take their hands off the wheel, particularly in helping them to monitor blind spots (73 percent).
  • AI which can provide ongoing, constructive feedback appeals to 29 percent of drivers.
  • AI feedback is considered particularly useful for new drivers (18 percent) and a potential way to eliminate risk (16 percent).


This Netradyne survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from February 25 to March 10, 2020 among 1248 standard drivers. Participants were aged 18+, held a standard car driving license and drove a car owned by themselves or their family at least once per week. Results were weighted for age, gender, region, urbanicity, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, household income, and/or socio-economic status to be nationally representative, with a margin of error of two percent at a 95 percent confidence level. Netradyne also conducted an online survey of commercial drivers from February 25 – March 16, 2020.

About Netradyne, Inc.

Founded in 2015, Netradyne leverages global technology centers in San Diego and Bangalore to push the boundaries of intelligent connectivity. Our world-class team of scientists are developing key Intellectual Property in the areas of computer vision, deep learning, edge computing, and predictive analytics to accelerate the evolution of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), driving meaningful advances in the transportation ecosystem.