New distracted driving survey is in—80% of drivers admit to using a mobile device while driving

Announcing Root for Safety, a new survey about distracted driving conducted by the Harris Poll. In this survey, Root asked 2,000 ordinary Americans about decisions they make behind the wheel every day. What we found was illuminating—and a little bit scary.

And, since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’ll be sharing our findings over the next few weeks.

Why did Root Insurance conduct a survey?

As a product manager at Root, I look at claims data every day (that is, the aggregate information collected about how many people submitted a claim and for what—totaled car, new windshield or bumper, hospital visits, and so on). My team analyze remarkable data about the frequency, severity, and cause of accidents—put simply, we’re not just interested in counting accidents but in figuring but how they happen. If we can better understand how accidents happen, we can help more people avoid them.

Since accident data can only tell us so much, we decided to commission a survey and ask real people about their level of distraction in the car. We asked what kinds of activities people do while they drive, what causes them to be most distracted, and if they’ve experienced consequences from distracted driving behaviors.

I’ll be frank—the numbers aren’t pretty. People are using their phones a lot while they drive. Let’s take a look at some of the results of the Root for Safety distracted driving survey.


  • 80% of drivers admit to using a mobile device while driving.
  • Nearly 60% of drivers believe it is acceptable to use a mobile device while at a complete stop.
  • One third of drivers (32%) say texting on a mobile device is one of the biggest distractions to them when they’re driving.
  • Nearly 25% of Americans use social media while driving.
  • 20% of Americans can’t go more than 30 minutes without checking their phone while driving.
  • 10% of American men admitted to online shopping while driving.

I’d like to say we’re surprised by the results, but we’re drivers, too, and we know how challenging it is to maintain undistracted driving. We don’t share these results to shame anyone—rather, we’re exploring ways to fix this big problem that affects us all. Accidents caused by distracted driving are preventable, and there are concrete ways to retrain ourselves to become undistractable while we drive.

Any good news?

Yes. Here’s another stat from our survey:

  • Nearly 70% of drivers would drive more cautiously if they knew it would guarantee a lower insurance rate.

Here at Root, we do give lower rates to folks who drive cautiously. And we’re excited by the prospect that fundamentally fair insurance based primarily on driving behavior could make roads safer for all of us.

Want to know what else we found?

Great. Stay tuned here. We’ll be doing a deep dive into the data and sharing even more interesting findings as Distracted Driving Awareness Month progresses.

(In the meantime? Download the Root app to get a rate based on how you actually drive.)

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