​Distracted Driving Survey: Practice and Opinions Don’t Match


About one third of drivers feel confident in their own ability to text and drive, yet the majority believe distracted driving is the biggest cause of auto accidents and more than 90% say it should be illegal, according to a survey by Progressive Insurance, Cleveland, Ohio.

The starkest difference in attitudes is between younger and older drivers. More than 60% of 18- to 34-years old are confident in their ability to safely text while driving compared to less than 6% of individuals 55 and older.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

“We hope this study starts conversations around distracted driving and how to reduce it. It’s especially interesting that most people recognize this activity is dangerous, yet many people feel confident in their own ability to text and drive,” said David Pratt, an executive with Progressive. “Based on early results with users of our Snapshot Mobile app, we’re optimistic that personalized feedback will encourage safer behavior.”

Here are a few key findings from the study:


Young vs. Old

  • 62% of 18- to 34-year-olds are very or somewhat confident in their ability to text while driving, while only 6% of individuals 55 and older felt the same confidence.
  • Yet, 64% of 18- to 34-year-olds think texting or looking as a phone while driving is the most common cause of accidents.

Men vs. Women

  • Twice as many men (21%) as women (11%) are “very confident” in their ability to text while driving.
  • Despite that confidence, 88% of men and 97% of women think texting should not be allowed.

Among All Drivers

  • More than 65% of individuals polled believe that texting/looking at one’s phone while driving is the most common cause of traffic accidents in the US. And 83% of individuals believe police should be able to pull over drivers for texting alone. At the same time, 34% of respondents said they were somewhat or very confident in their ability to text while driving.
  • Individuals are most likely to think it is ok to engage with the following activities on their phone while driving: listening to music (43%), use a map (30%) and make a call (25%). This also corresponds with ways they interact with their phone when behind the wheel: use a map app at a stoplight (37%), use a map app while driving (35%), look at an app at a stoplight (22%), look at an app when stopped in traffic (21%), and use a virtual assistant (like Siri) to search for a contact to make a call (19%).
  • The most common feelings evoked when seeing another driver texting is concern (62%) followed by irritation (50%). These top two feelings didn’t vary by age, gender.

The study of drivers was developed by Progressive Insurance. It was a national online study conducted in August 2017 among general market, insured drivers, who are not Progressive customers. Approximately 1,000 individuals 18 years of age or older responded.


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