It’s not an exaggeration to say that looking down at your phone while operating a vehicle — even for just a few seconds — can be deadly. Most of us know this. But, according to a new study, most of us do it anyway.
The study, released yesterday by analytics firm Zendrive, found that “Americans use their phones nearly every single time they get behind the wheel.” The company said it conducted the largest distracted driving study to date, analyzing the phone habits of 3.1 million anonymized drivers who made 570 million trips covering 5.6 billion miles between December 2016 and February 2017. Their key finding: “drivers use their phones during 88 out of every 100 trips.”
“Every day, that’s the equivalent of people behind the wheel talking or texting on 5.6-million car rides from our sample alone,” Zendrive wrote in a blog post. “When extrapolated for the entire U.S. driving population, the number goes up to roughly 600-million distracted trips a day.”
The study also revealed that during an hour-long trip, drivers spend an average of 3.5 minutes on their phones.
“This finding is frightening, especially when you consider that a 2-second distraction is long enough to increase your likelihood of crashing by over 20 times,” Zendrive wrote, citing research from Oregon State University. “In other words, that’s equivalent to 105 opportunities an hour that you could nearly kill yourself and/or others.”
The firm also ranked the problem by state and found that Vermonters are the most distracted drivers. On the other end of the spectrum, those in Oregon are the least distracted.
Zendrive said it’s working with communities, local decision markers, safety experts and driving coaches to bring awareness to this issue.
Meanwhile a separate study released last month by the U.S. Governors Highway Safety Association found that pedestrian deaths increased 11 percent last year, and smartphones are partially to blame.