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Triple-I blog | Increased distractions in distracted driving since the pandemic began



By Max Dorfman, research writer, Triple-I

Distracted driving in the United States has increased by more than 30 percent from February 2020 to February 2022, as the coronavirus pandemic has improved driving patterns, according to a recent report by telematics service provider Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT). This is despite improvements in other dangerous behaviors, such as speeding, which have decreased as traffic has returned since the early stages of the pandemic.

Drivers in January 2022 averaged 1

:35 seconds of distraction per hour, the highest level in the last three years. In addition, in February 2022, this figure increased to 1:38 seconds – an increase of 25.5 percent from February 2019 and an increase of 30.3 percent from February 2020, which was the last month of pre-pandemic driving.

In addition, distracted driving in the evening and at night has increased dramatically compared to pre-pandemic levels, with distraction balloons in the evening to almost 35 percent from February 2020 to April 2020. The distraction in the evening has become even worse, with 40 percent of drivers in the same period. This trend has remained high, with the average distracted time standing at 1:29 seconds per hour in February 2022 for late night driving.

The US government is taking note

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a report describing data limits and other barriers to restricting distracted driving. The report found that approximately 3,142 people died in distraction-related accidents in 2020, with an estimated 400,000 people injured each year in such crashes. The true numbers, according to the study, are likely to be higher due to underreporting.

The GHSA report also notes that the most common and risky behaviors include:

  • Cell dial;
  • Celltext;
  • To reach for an object;
  • Cell-browse and;
  • Unit in vehicle.

A total of 15 percent of motor vehicle-reported traffic accidents registered distraction as a factor, according to national crash data, with drivers aged 15 to 20 years with the highest risk of distracted driving in a fatal accident.

This is despite the fact that 80 percent of drivers state that it is extremely or very dangerous to talk on a handheld mobile phone. However, 37 percent admit that they do this. Almost all drivers (95 percent) said that it is extremely or very dangerous to read or write a text message or e-mail message on a handheld mobile phone while driving. In contrast, 23 percent reported that they wrote or sent an SMS or email on a handheld cell phone at least once in the past 30 days, of which 34 percent stated that they read on a handheld device while driving.

Can telematics help?

A 2020 study by Triple-I’s sister organization Insurance Research Council (IRC) focused on public perception and use of telematics, which can be used to reduce the cost of insurance for responsible drivers.

In fact, 45 percent of the drivers surveyed said they made significant safety-related changes to the way they drove after participating in a telematics program. Another 35 percent said they made small changes to the way they drove.

And although many individuals who have made small or significant changes eventually return to previous driving habits, one in four participants reported that they consider the changes made to be permanent, with another 19 percent saying they have only rarely had previous driving habits.

This type of behavioral change promises not only the future for telematics, but for safer roads with significantly fewer accidents.


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