Distracted Driving Trends: Use of Hand-Held Cell Phones for Talking Decreasing, Increasing for Internet and Social Media

PR Newswire, Bloomington, Ill. -- According to the annual survey conducted by State Farm, drivers continue to be in favor of laws restricting cellphone use while driving, yet they are still using them.

For seven years State Farm has surveyed consumers regarding their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to distracted driving, revealing trends over time. A number of interesting trends have been revealed:

Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving has decreased:
◦2009 – 65 percent
◦2015 – 51 percent

Texting while driving has stayed nearly the same:
◦2009 – 31 percent
◦2015 – 36 percent

Accessing the Internet while driving has more than doubled:
◦2009 – 13 percent
◦2015 – 29 percent

Other significant increases include using GPS, reading and responding to email, and reading and updating social media networks.

In consideration of the multitude of distractions the Internet can bring to drivers, the annual survey has also been following trends in smartphone ownership over the past five years, broken into age categories. In 2015, a large majority, 88 percent, of drivers with cellphones own smartphones, and over five years the most dramatic increase has been among drivers over 40 years of age.

The percentage of drivers with cellphones who own smartphones:

  • Ages 18 – 29: 78 percent in 2011 and 99 percent in 2015
  • Ages 30 - 39: 65 percent in 2011 and 97 percent in 2015
  • Ages 40 – 49: 47 percent in 2011 and 92 percent in 2015
  • Ages 50 – 64: 44 percent in 2011 and 79 percent in 2015
  • Ages 65 +: 23 percent in 2011 and 69 percent in 2015

The annual State Farm Distracted Driving Survey shows drivers managing more distractions than ever. 

“It’s interesting to observe how the number and types of distractions available on cellphones have grown over the years we have conducted this annual survey,” said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “We want to remind people that despite these and other demands on your attention when driving, please stay 100% focused on your drive.”

What is most likely to stop drivers from texting while driving? The survey specifically asked drivers who regularly text while driving to select their top deterrents, and their responses were 1) causing a crash while reading or responding to a text message, 2) financial and/or legal consequences, and 3) getting caught by police.

“These responses about deterrents highlight the need for a multi-pronged approach to curbing distracted driving,” said Mullen. “Potential solutions lie in a combination of education and awareness, technology, regulation and enforcement.”