Study: 60% of Motorists Use Phone While Driving

Three in five U.S. drivers—some 69 million people—use their smartphone at least once a day while operating their vehicles, according to a study by Zendrive Inc.

Usage has increased 10% since a similar research conducted two years ago by the San Francisco-based data analytics firm. Zendrive’s results are based on an analysis of sensor data captured directly from smartphones.

The company’s latest finding indicate 100 times more behind-the-wheel phone users than reported by previous U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies. NHTSA has calculated that 660,000 U.S. drivers use their phones during daylight hours.

Zendrive’s “Distracted Driving Snapshot” study monitored all types of smartphone use: talking, texting, navigating, selecting music and browsing the internet. The analysis tracked 4.5 million drivers over 7.1 billion miles of travel between December 2017 and February 2018.

Compared with the 2017 study, phone use by drivers increased in every state but Vermont and in every major city studied. Zendrive says motorists use their phones for an average of nearly two minutes of every hour behind the wheel. The majority of use occurs in the first 5% of a trip.

Houston and Dallas were the worst cities, where drivers averaged more than 9% of their time on their phones. Detroit was third worst at just under 9%.

Zendrive also surveyed 500 people about their overall driving practices. Nine out of 10 claim to be safe drivers. But nearly half admit using their phone for at least 10% of the time they’re behind the wheel, a group Zendrive describes as dangerous “phone addicts.”