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Study Reveals America’s Blind Spots behind the Wheel

| April 17, 2019

From Texting and Shaving to Much Worse, Americans Average at Least 91 Minutes a Week Driving While Distracted

Root Insurance, the nation’s only auto insurance company to discount insurance rates for drivers who avoid using their phones behind the wheel, released the results of their second annual distracted driving study, conducted online by Wakefield Research. The study reveals that nearly half of drivers surveyed (47%) cite distracted driving on the road as their top concern when driving, presenting a national issue for road safety.

 “Using a mobile device while driving has become second nature. As Root’s study confirms, too many drivers don’t think twice about this behavior, even when they should,” said Root Insurance’s Director of Data Science for Telematics, Joe Plattenburg. “The number of distractions are increasing, and so is the need for companies and drivers to find new ways to encourage focused driving.”

Drivers know using their phone while driving is wrong but still do it anyway. Drivers admit to spending an average of 13 minutes a day—or 91 minutes a week—using their devices while driving. Additionally, nearly 2 in 5 drivers (38%) who check their mobile devices while driving do not even put their phones down when they see law enforcement.

Almost all drivers (99%) point to phones as being among the top three distractions while driving. Distractions that are most likely to turn their attention away from the road and to their phone include:

  • Group chats, such as a text or an email chain with multiple people (52%)
  • Social media, such as memes or newsfeed (33%)
  • Streaming video, such as a show or movie trailer (18%)

Despite their own behavior, those surveyed remain intolerant of distracted driving by others. An overwhelming majority of drivers (89%) would give an Uber/Lyft driver a bad rating for texting while driving, while 39% admit they’ve done that themselves. Meanwhile, nearly all drivers (90%) believe they are better behind the wheel than Uber/Lyft drivers.

Unrelated to mobile phone use, the study also found other unsafe activities are taking place on U.S. roads and highways. Nearly 3 in 10 drivers (29%) don’t even keep their hands on the wheel, admitting they have steered with a different body part, such as a knee or chin.

Additional activities include:

  • Grooming while driving, doing their hair/makeup or shaving (18%)
  • Playing with a pet (13%)
  • Changing clothes (12%)

This study follows Root’s 2019 Focused Driving Report, released earlier this month to better understand the severity of distracted driving. Based on real behavioral data, the report found that Gen Z drivers (18-24-year-olds) used their mobile devices while driving 20 times per 100 miles driven.

Category: Driver Stuff, Featured, General Update, News, Safety

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