Behind the Wheel
On average, drivers across the United States used their phones on more than a third of their trips. Among trips with phone use, the average drive time was 29 minutes and drivers spent more than three minutes on the phone. To put this in perspective, taking your eyes off the road to read a text for just five seconds at 55 mph is like driving more than the length of a football field blindfolded.
Drivers age 17 and under were the most cautious. They speed less than other age groups.
With 781 million miles logged through EverDrive, drivers recorded enough miles to travel from Boston to San Francisco and back about 126,000 times. With an average of 6% of trip time spent on the phone, that means more than 46 million miles were spent on the phone.
Midwesterners are the safest drivers. Drivers in Midwestern states have the highest safe-driving ratings in the country. Drivers in the Northeast had the lowest. (We used the U.S. Census Bureau classifications of West, Midwest, South and Northeast geographic regions.)
There's not a big gender gap when it comes to safe driving. Overall, men and women had similar scores across all categories.
The average trip time for drivers who used their phones was 29 minutes. On average, they used their phones for 11% of their trip, or more than 3 minutes.
Across the U.S. there are three common types of distracted driving laws:
- Hand-held phone bans
- All cell phone bans for novice drivers
- Texting and driving bans
We looked at whether each state had one or more of these laws and found that:
- 15 states had all three
- 24 states had two
- Nine states had one
- Two states had none
Laws regulating distracted driving and phone use while driving appear to be having some positive impact. Among the best five states for least phone use, four states have all three of the common distracted driving laws. States where drivers had the most trips with phone use had some of the least restrictive laws.
On average, drivers in states that had all three of the common distracted driving laws had better scores than the 11 states that have only one or no laws against distracted driving.
In addition, 75% of drivers who use a "do not disturb" phone feature believe it makes them safer drivers, according to a recent EverQuote study.
In a 2017 study, EverQuote surveyed teens and parents and found that 74% of parents were more worried about teens and distracted driving than they were about teens driving drunk. Yet 63% of parents admitted they themselves checked a mobile app, texted or talked on the phone while driving. Also:
- 24% of parents admitted to texting or calling their teen when they knew the teen was driving. And 44% of teens say they have received a text or call from parents while driving.
Gender and driving
There's not a big gender gap when it comes to safe driving. Overall, men and women scored similarly. Men speed slightly more than women: 40% of their trips versus 38%. Women use their phones while driving slightly more than men: 42% of trips versus 38%.
Men accelerated aggressively on 16% of their trips. Women accelerated aggressively on 14% of trips.
Both men and women brake harshly on 1 of every 4 trips they take. Men brake harshly on 25% of their trips; women brake harshly on 26% of trips.
Men make hard turns on 12% of their trips. Women make hard turns on 10% of trips.
Age and driving
Young adult drivers age 18 to 20 use their phones on nearly half of their trips (47%). Younger drivers age 17 or under use their phones slightly less, 43% of trips. Drivers age 21 and over use their phones on 38% of trips.
Young drivers 17 and under are more cautious when it comes to speeding. They speed on 35% of trips. Drivers age 18 to 20 speed most often -- on 41% of trips. Drivers age 21 and over speed on 39% of trips.
Young adult drivers age 18 to 20 accelerate aggressively more often than other age groups. Drivers in this group accelerated aggressively on 18% of trips. Drivers age 17 and under accelerated aggressively on 16% of trips. Drivers 21 and older accelerated aggressively 15% of trips.
Drivers age 21 and older make safer turns. Drivers in this group made hard turns on only 11% of trips. Drivers age 17 and under made hard turns on 15% of trips. Drivers age 18 to 20 made hard turns on 17% of trips.
Drivers in all age groups braked hard on about one quarter of trips. Drivers age 17 or under braked harshly on 24% of trips; drivers 18 and older braked harshly on 26% of trips.
Speeding is the most common unsafe driving habit, but drivers are using their phones almost as much. Drivers speed on 38% of trips and used their phones on 37% of trips.
Trips that involved speeding lasted an average of 29 minutes, and drivers sped for more than 2.5 minutes, or 8% of the trip.
Driving by region
Midwesterners are the safest drivers. Drivers in Midwestern states have the highest safe-driving ratings in the country. Drivers in Northeastern states have the lowest safe-driving ratings in the country.
Northeasterners have a heavy foot. Northeastern drivers speed (48% of trips) and aggressively accelerate (16% of trips) more than drivers in any other region. Midwestern drivers speed the least (32% of trips) and Southern drivers aggressively accelerate the least (13% of trips).
Drivers in the South use their phones the most. Drivers in Southern states use their phones on 41% of trips. Drivers in Western states use their phones the least -- 34% of trips.
We used the U.S. Census Bureau's classification of states into the West, Midwest, South and Northeast geographic regions.
Distracted driving and insurance
Whether you're a great driver or one who could improve, you're likely already paying for the nationwide epidemic of distracted driving. Car insurance rate increases last year were common, due to factors including:
- Increased accidents and claims caused by distracted driving
- Increased accidents and claims as people drive more when the economy improves
- Higher vehicle-repair costs
- Higher medical bills for accident injuries
If you personally have recent moving violations, accidents or claims, you could see a further car insurance rate increase at renewal time.
Advanced car-safety technologies can't protect us against the wave of unsafe driving caused by smartphone use and other problems, says Bob Passmore, assistant vice president for personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, a trade group.
"It's not just talking and texting that are diverting our attention anymore; increasingly, drivers are surfing the web, engaging on social media, and using apps," says Passmore.
With multiple factors pushing up auto insurance claims -- from costs to frequency -- it may be hard to see an end in sight to rate increases.
"Putting down our phones and staying focused on the road can prevent accidents. We need to commit to doing that, and we need to urge our loved ones to do the same," says Passmore.
We analyzed 781 million miles of driving data from 2017 from EverQuote's safe-driving app, EverDrive.
The EverDrive app derives measurements from several components inside a phone, including: GPS, accelerometer, device screen on/off and gyroscope. The app measures and ranks driving skills, from 0 to 100, based on the following factors:
- Speeding: A speeding event is recorded if the vehicle's speed exceeds the estimated safe speed of the road. Of note, speed limits vary in different states and states with better speeding scores may in fact be driving faster than drivers in other states.
- Phone use: A phone event is recorded if the following three conditions are all true:
- Screen is on and unlocked
- The phone is being moved in a way that indicates it is in a person's hand
- The vehicle is moving faster than a minimum speed
- Hard acceleration/hard braking: These events are flagged when the longitudinal acceleration of the vehicle is moving faster than a minimum speed.
- Hard turning: Hard-turning events are flagged when the lateral acceleration of the vehicle exceeds a certain threshold over a sufficiently long period.
Posted April 18, 2018