Distracted Driving Behaviors That Are Impacting All Drivers

Distracted driving has become more of a concern over the years. Cell phone use like texting, talking, and social media use while driving has become some of the most common distractions while driving. Other risky behaviors include adjusting the radio, putting on makeup, eating, and drinking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021 alone distracted driving killed more than 3,520 people.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s a good time to remind people of safety tips when it comes to navigating the roads. This month you may see increased law enforcement on the roadways as part of national campaigns such as Put the Phone Away or Pay and others. According to the NHTSA, this campaign reminds drivers of the deadly dangers and legal consequences including fines.

Recently, Nationwide, an auto insurance company, polled standard drivers and commercial drivers to reveal risky behaviors that are impacting all drivers on the road. They found that 34% of commercial drivers admitted they sometimes or often feel distracted behind the wheel. Interestingly, their peers are noticing because 6 out of 10 agree that other commercial drivers are looking at their phones more often and driving faster than they did a year ago.

The primary causes of distractions for commercial drivers.

According to the survey, 55% of commercial drivers are using GPS/Nav systems. Regarding phone usage, 36% are responding to work text messages, 27% are texting and talking on phones, and 13% are checking social media apps.

“Many commercial drivers report taking these actions for work purposes,” they stated. “This could suggest they are feeling pressured by their employer to make tight timelines, which are causing distractions while behind the wheel,” they continued.

The survey also revealed that 90% of consumers say that they feel it is dangerous to hold a phone in their hand while driving, whether to talk, text, or navigate.

The blame game with distracted driving.

Consumers reported that the problem is other drivers with 80% rating their own driving as “very good” or “excellent,” compared to other passenger cars on the road (14%) or commercial vehicles (25%). Additionally, 92% agree driving has become more dangerous, reporting that other drivers are looking at their phones more often.

More findings from Nationwide.

“Nationwide’s telematics driving data shows that drivers take their eyes off the road at least 12 times per day. The average distraction for a driver traveling at 45MPH would cover the length of three football fields! States with hands-free laws are helping to minimize distraction, but we need all 50 states to adopt hands-free laws to continue to reduce crashes and save lives,” said Kelly Hernandez, AVP of Nationwide’s personal telematics.

They mentioned that 89% support laws or legislation in their state to prohibit drivers from holding their cell phones while talking or manually using their cell phones to text, email or look at anything on their phones while operating a motor vehicle.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), as of September 2023, 29 U.S. states (plus the District of Columbia) have a ban on using handheld devices for all drivers anytime they are behind the wheel. These hands-free states include Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey, among others.