According to a recent report from telematics provider Cambridge Mobile Telematics, distracted driving has increased by more than 30% in the United States between February 2020 and February 2022. This is because the coronavirus has disrupted driving patterns. This is despite other dangerous behaviors like speeding being reduced since the initial phases of the pandemic.
In January 2022, drivers were distracted on average for 1:35 seconds per hour. This is a record high over the last three years. In February 2022, the average driver was 1:38 seconds, an increase of 25.5 percent over February 2019 and 30.3 percent above February 2020, the last month before the pandemic.
Evening and late-night distractions have dramatically increased in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. The evening distraction rate has risen to nearly 35 percent between February 2020 and April 2020. Late-night distraction is worse than ever, with 40% of drivers doing so in the same time frame. This trend is still evident, with late-night drivers consuming an average of 1:29 seconds per hr.
The U.S government takes note
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), released a report detailing information limits and other barriers to limiting distracted driving recently. According to the report, approximately 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2020. An estimated 400,000 people are injured in these crashes each year. According to the study, underreporting likely causes these figures to be greater.
The GHSA report notes that the most common and most dangerous behaviors are:
- Cell dial;
- Text for cell phones
- Reaching out for an object
- Cell-browse and;
- In-vehicle device.
According to national crash data, 15% of all motor vehicle traffic accidents reported by police involved distraction. Drivers between 15 and 20 years old are at the greatest risk of being distracted in a fatal accident.
This is despite the fact that 80 percent of drivers believe talking on a handheld cell phone while driving is dangerous. But, 37% admit to having done this. 95 percent of drivers said that reading or writing a text message or email while driving is dangerous or extremely dangerous. 23% reported that they have sent or typed text messages or emails on their hand-held phones at least once within the last 30 days. 34% said that they read while driving on a handheld device.
Can telematics help?
Triple-I’s sister organization, the Insurance Research Council (IRC), conducted a 2020 study on the public’s perceptions and use of telematics. This can help lower the cost of insurance for responsible drivers.
After participating in a program that used telematics, 45 percent said they had made safety-related changes to their driving habits. Another 35 percent stated that they made minor changes to their driving style.
Although many people who make small or major changes in their driving habits eventually return to their old driving habits, only one-fourth of participants said they considered the changes permanent. Another 19 percent reported that they only occasionally reverted to their previous driving habits.
These types of behavior shifts are promising not only for future telematics but also for safer roads with significantly fewer accidents.