Distracted Driving On The Rise During The Pandemic

The number of people who drive daily may have decreased during the pandemic, but those who are behind the wheel these days are much more distracted. 

Distracted driving has always been a problem, so why has the pandemic caused it to intensify? A Travelers survey of over 1,000 consumers and business managers reveals that the pandemic has lulled people into a false sense of road security.

“Traffic volumes were lower during the early days of the pandemic, which may have given drivers a false sense of security. Not only did distracted driving increase, data from our telematics product IntelliDrive shows that speeding also became more prevalent. As travel restrictions are lifted around the country, it’s critical to slow down and stay focused on the road by eliminating distractions.”

Chris Hayes, Second Vice President of Workers Compensation and Transportation, Risk Control, at Travelers

One in four drivers think that roads are safer today than they were before a pandemic, and a growing number of respondents reported using their phones in unsafe ways while driving, including:

  • 26% of respondents reported texting and driving, up from 19% pre-pandemic;
  • 20%, checking social media, up from 13% pre-pandemic;
  • 19%, taking videos or photos, up from 10% pre-pandemic;
  • and 17%, shopping online, up from 8% pre-pandemic.

Despite the decrease in traffic, approximately 13% more people died on U.S. roads in the second half of 2020 compared to the same time the year prior, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A new study from AAA found an increase in reckless drivers on the roads may be to blame.

The study, conducted in fall of 2020, found an estimated 4% of drivers in the United States reported they increased their driving during the pandemic. Those drivers tended to be younger and mostly male, AAA said. That group also reported to engage in risky driving behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, aggressive driving, substance-impaired driving and not using seatbelts, the report found.

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