Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and encourage motorists to reduce avoidable distractions behind the wheel. Generally speaking, distracted driving refers to any activity that may interfere with a driver’s attentiveness on the road, whether that entails changing the radio station or interacting with their smartphone.1
Distracted driving dangers
A new Agency Forward study from Nationwide found drivers are practicing poor driving behavior despite fears of others driving dangerously.
Distracted driving poses significant safety hazards and contributes to many accidents. In fact, more than 2,800 people are killed, and 400,000 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver each year—equating to approximately eight deaths and 1,095 injuries per day.2
With 36,000 independent insurance agents in the United States, the average agent could have as many as 12 clients injured or killed in distracted driving incidents annually. To make matters worse, motorists’ driving behaviors have become increasingly risky, potentially heightening the likelihood of distracted driving incidents.
Distracted driving statistics
Distracted driving is a common issue among drivers. In fact, over half of drivers admit to speeding or eating while driving over the past 12 months. Further, 1 in 5 or more have used their phone to text (22%) or call (35%) while behind the wheel These behaviors are particularly prevalent with Gen Z and Millennial drivers, who are more likely than other generations to use their phones while driving for calls, texts or social media.
In particular, 59% of Gen Z drivers admit being more impatient on the road than a year ago, 47% than they did a year ago, report driving faster and 47% admit to taking phone calls on a handheld device while driving over the past year. During the past year:
- 38% of Gen Z consumers admitted to looking at their phones more frequently while behind the wheel.
- 34% of Gen Z drivers admitted to video chatting while driving.
- 24% of Gen Z and 23% of Millennials admitted to using/checking social media while driving.
Distracted driving behaviors
Per Nationwide’s Agency Survey, 86% of drivers rate their driving as very good or excellent, but this overlooks some concerning behaviors.
Approximately 38% of drivers say they are more impatient behind the wheel now than in 2022. Many admit to eating while driving (56%) or driving 10 mph over the speed limit (54%) during the past 12 months. And more than 1 in 5 (22%) report texting while driving or giving obscene gestures to other drivers (21%) during the same period. Additionally, 17% admitted to running a stop sign or red light, and 13% said they have video-chatted while driving.
As these unsafe road habits increase, driving has become more stressful. Around 9-in-10 say other drivers on the road are more aggressive, reckless, and drive faster than in 2022. Unsurprisingly, 61% say driving has become more stressful for them since last year due to these behaviors.
Not only have these driving behaviors created more distractions, but they’ve also led to more accidents. The most common reasons cited for accidents are aggressive or reckless driving practices, such as unsafe lane changing (18%), tailgating (15%), running red lights/stop signs (12%) and road rage (9%).
Overall, it’s evident that distracted driving is a significant concern for all motorists, threatening the safety of the roadways and creating challenges across the auto insurance industry. Distracted Driving Month is a great reminder, how crucial it is for motorists to take this risk seriously and do what they can to reduce potential distractions behind the wheel.
Nationwide also offers telematics solutions that can help motorists become more aware of their driving behaviors behind the wheel and promote safe driving practices. Namely, SmartRide®, a mobile application that tracks drivers’ habits on the road and provides safe driving discounts on auto insurance and personalized experiences that help them drive safely.
Additionally, insurance agents can help promote distracted driving prevention by spreading the word on social media, sharing resources in client email communications, presenting to teen motorists at local schools and actively supporting related legislation within their respective states. By working together, drivers and insurance agents can make a difference in reducing distracted driving incidents.
Nationwide Research Methodology
Edelman Data & Intelligence conducted a national online survey of 1,000 U.S. adult (ages 18+), car-owning consumers on behalf of Nationwide. The study was fielded from February 17 – 22, 2023 and has an overall margin of error of ±3% at the 95% confidence level.