Beware of the Zoom Zombie: 54% of Americans Who Drive After Video Chatting Report Trouble Concentrating

Study reveals that COVID-19 has compounded distracted driving behavior, with 64% of American drivers checking their phone while driving

COLUMBUS, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$ROOT–COVID-19 is far from over, but the impact it has had on our collective driving capabilities continues to show itself in meaningful, sometimes surprising ways.

According to a new analysis of over 6.1 billion miles driven by drivers who completed Root Insurance’s (NASDAQ: ROOT) test drive, the average American driver used their phone once every 5.5 miles in 2020 (or 18 times every 100 miles).1 Moreover, a national consumer survey of 1,819 American drivers shows that 54% of Americans who drive after video chatting report trouble concentrating. When work life became synonymous with home life, COVID-19 created new distractions and challenges for American drivers getting behind the wheel of a car.

When the world went virtual

A year ago, many of us who were suddenly cut off from friends and family began relying heavily on our mobile devices to stay connected.

A majority of Americans (68%) report they more frequently use their phones to multitask, especially those identified as Gen Z (87%) and millennials (88%). That constant dependence on devices for connection extends to our cars. Of those Americans who drive with a mobile device, 62% say the sound of a call or text makes them want to check their phones. With 64% of American drivers checking their phone while driving, what does that mean for our roads?

“COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way we interact with our vehicles,” says Root Insurance founder and CEO Alex Timm. “As many abruptly shifted to a virtual environment, Americans’ reliance on technology dramatically increased along with their screen time, causing a majority of drivers to carry this distracted behavior into their vehicles.”

In all, nearly two-thirds of drivers (64%) report that they check their phones while driving. And the frequency with which they check their phones behind the wheel has continued to climb:

 

2021

2020

2019

Checks phone while driving

64%

66%

58%

Checks within 30 min

53%

42%

36%

Checks within 15 min

25%

17%

16%

More alarming, many drivers are comfortable with this level of distraction. Nearly one-third (30%) of drivers believe they can be safe while using their mobile phone, up 6 percentage points from 2020 (24%).

So, what causes this disconnect with reality to make Americans feel they can drive safely while using their phones?

2021: Can we stop our bad habits?

With vaccine rollouts steadily underway, Americans are ready to emerge from their homes and return to some semblance of normal life. But after a year of fending off COVID-19, many might forget or even ignore more commonplace threats such as distracted driving.

  • Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (30%) believe they can drive safely while using their phones, especially Gen Z (50%) and millennials (42%)
  • Conversely, among those who multi-task or check their phone while driving, 93% believe doing so impacts how they drive
  • Masks can be a distraction for 41 percent of drivers who keep one in their cars

“Many Americans have honed their use of technology and their ability to multitask during the pandemic but living room skills do not translate behind the wheel,” says Timm. “As drivers return to the road, they should recognize the dangers of false confidence to protect themselves and their passengers.”

The new relationship many drivers have with their vehicles combined with increased reliance on our phones presents a potentially difficult road ahead. But it doesn’t have to be. Distracted driving is one area where better policy can make a real impact. States with strict enforcement laws related to handheld phone use and text messaging have significantly fewer incidences of distracted driving – with 75% of those states falling below the national baseline for distracted driving.

To learn more about all of Root’s distracted driving survey findings, visit https://www.joinroot.com.

About the Survey

The Root Insurance Distracted Driving Awareness Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,819 nationally representative U.S. adult drivers, ages 18+, between March 12th and March 17th, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey. Data has been weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult driver population, ages 18+.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 2.3 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About the Customer Analysis

This data is based on an analysis of 6,165,406,024 miles driven by people who completed the Root test drive in 2020. To be included, each user must have driven for at least 30 miles and provided demographic information from their driver’s license. Only the 29 states where Root was actively selling insurance in 2020 are included in this analysis. These states include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

About Root

Root Insurance is the nation’s first licensed insurance carrier powered entirely by mobile. We were founded on the principle that auto insurance rates should be based primarily on driving behaviors, not demographics. Using mobile technology and data science, Root offers personalized, fair rates to good drivers all through an easy-to-use app.

Root is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, with renters insurance available in Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, and Utah, and auto insurance currently available to drivers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

1 Root Insurance analyzed over 6.1 billion miles driven by people who completed the Root test drive in 2020. The average driver used their phone 18 times every 100 miles (or once every 5.5 miles).

Contacts

Root Insurance

Tom Kuhn

Director of Communications

press@joinroot.com