Bloomington, IL,
10:59 AM

9 of 10 Drivers Used Their Smartphone Behind the Wheel in 2020

Driving distracted appears to have become an epidemic as more drivers admit to using their smartphone.

If the last year proved anything, it displayed our need and ability as a society to adapt our behaviors for the benefit of the greater good.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach and focused on our responsibility to each other while driving - safely and without additional distraction?

In August 2020, the State Farm® Enterprise Research Department conducted an online survey with adults ages 18 and older examining attitudes and behaviors around distracted driving. It revealed that we are still texting, speeding, reading, on social media, grooming, gaming and taking selfies while behind the wheel driving.

This survey, the ninth wave of a study first conducted in August 2009, found that nine out of 10 drivers (89%) said they engaged in at least one of the 14 distracted driving behaviors studied while behind the wheel.

More drivers reported participating in each behavior studied in 2020 than they did in 2010 or 2015, with the exception of talking on a hand-held phone (engagement has declined significantly since 2010 as more drivers are talking hands free).

Factors at Play

Smartphone ownership has increased steadily since 2011 moving from 53 percent of all respondents in 2011 to 95 percent in 2020. This increase has enabled more drivers to take part in smartphone-related distracted driving, like accessing the internet, which has more than doubled between 2010 and 2020.

Age greatly influenced the reported rate of distracted behaviors in 2020. Drivers under age 40 were significantly more likely than those age 40 and over to say they engaged in distracted phone and navigation behaviors. And while 56 percent believed manually interacting with a phone while driving greatly increases the likelihood of a crash – consumers continue to put themselves and everyone on the road at risk.

Younger drivers were significantly more likely to exhibit other risky behaviors while driving, including speeding, driving drowsy, failing to use turn signals, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“So much has changed in our lives this past year,” State Farm Assistant Vice President - Enterprise Research Laurel K. Straub said. “We don't know what our ‘new normal’ might be, but we can start taking responsibility for the safety of ourselves and others by making positive choices when it comes to our driving behavior behind the wheel.”

Imagine if we all pledge to start today to keep our eyes on the road, our hands on the wheel and our minds on the road ahead, how much better protected we would be from exposure to reckless and potentially deadly driving distractions.

“Distracted driving behaviors and crashes are preventable,” Laurel said. “Let’s normalize that.”


Distracted Driving Report
Distracted While Driving Report
Distracted Driving Bar Chart
Bar Graph Infographic
Distracted Driving Chart
Distracted Driving Infographic

Media Contact