Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Agree Texting and Driving is an Addiction

iPhone users are twice as likely to video-chat, browse Instagram, and take photos behind the wheel than Android users

  • Nearly 8 in 10 (76%) Americans agree that texting and driving is a form of addiction and 9 in 10 (87%) agree that it’s equally as dangerous as drinking and driving
  • 1 in 10 iPhone users also admit to watching videos on YouTube while driving (vs. 1 in 25 Android users)
  • Millennials are the most likely generation to engage in distracting activities while driving (88%) and Baby Boomers are the least likely (67%)
  • 37% of Millennials said they feel a high degree of pressure to respond to work related messages while driving, compared to 25% national average

In observation of Distracted Driving Month this April, The Zebra, the nation’s leading insurance comparison site, surveyed Americans to uncover what activities are distracting them on the road. The survey revealed that 78% of Americans admit to engaging in activities other than concentrating on the road, even though the majority of them (66%) feel guilty while doing so.

This consumer data is especially telling on the heels of The Zebra’s recent release of the annual Distracted Driving Report for 2019, which details a massive shift in how insurance companies are raising rates for drivers who are caught using their phones behind the wheel. In just eight years, insurers have increased the penalty for distracted driving nearly 10,000%, and it’s costing drivers hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

What Americans Are Doing in Their Cars

Emotional commercials and big brand petitions tell us that a text message can wait, yet 73% of respondents who admitted to texting and driving agree that this risky act can be classified as an addiction—80% of people in this group agree that it’s equally as dangerous as drinking and driving.

As we become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, The Zebra examined other ways drivers lose focus. Texting and driving falls second to eating food, which 78% Americans admit to doing while driving. 

In addition to texting and eating, Americans are taking photos (25%), handling pets (24%), entertaining children (21%), taking videos (13%) and video-chatting (11%) while driving, indicating that texting is just one part of the problem. Additionally, 7 in 10 Americans (71%) agree that technological features within their vehicle, such as touch screens and navigation, distract them while driving. 

Americans also admitted to doing some obscure activities while behind the wheel including clipping nails, changing clothes, carving fruit and even having sex.

Millennial Drivers 

As compared to the 78% of the national population who get distracted while driving, Millennials lead the pack, with 88% admitting the same. Millennials run the gamut for distractions while driving, including texting (59%), entertaining children (28%), browsing on Facebook (29%) and posting on Facebook (15%), reading (19%) and answering work emails (14%) and others.

According to the survey, Millennial drivers also feel the most pressure to work while driving. As a generation that harps on the option of unplugging and flexible schedules, it’s interesting to note that 37% of Millennials said they feel high degree of pressure to respond to work related messages while driving, compared to the national average, at 25%. 

Impact of Device Type on Distracted Driving

When looking at iPhone vs. Android owners, Apple users appear to be more addicted to their mobile devices, as they’re more prone to text, take photos, video-chat and more while driving, as compared to Android users. 

The following breaks down activities Americans are partaking in while on the road, by Operating System:

Activity on iPhone OS vs. Android OS

Texting 51% /35%

Taking Photos33% /23%

Taking Videos20% /10%

Video-Chatting17% /8%

Browse Facebook15% /9%

Browse Instagram12% /4%

Watch videos on YouTube10% /6%

Post on Instagram8% /3%

Stream shows on Netflix, Hulu, etc.8% /4%

Passenger Safety

Despite the growth and popularity of ridesharing options, 1 in 2 (46%) Americans admit to having been a passenger in a car where the driver was intoxicated. While the majority of Americans (66%) say they’re more likely to pay attention to the road when they have passengers in their vehicles, many Americans (75%) also reported having been a passenger in a car where the driver was texting, emailing and/or browsing on their mobile device. 

For comprehensive information about how distracted driving and other violations influence individual car insurance rates, see The Zebra’s 2019 Distracted Driving Report or visit The Zebra at www.thezebra.com

*This study is a result of surveying 2,107 Americans 

About The Zebra 

The Zebra is the nation's leading insurance search comparison site. With its dynamic, real-time quote comparison tool, drivers can identify insurance companies with the coverage, service level, and pricing to suit their unique needs. The Zebra compares more than 200 car insurance companies and provides licensed agent support and educational resources to ensure drivers are equipped to make the most informed decisions about their policies. It's "insurance in black and white."