Some 26% of people surveyed said they text or email while driving as compared with just 19% in 2020, according to the 2021 Travelers Risk Index.
The national survey of more than 1,000 motorists reveals that people can’t seem to keep their hands off their phones — especially since COVID-19 hit.
For example, 20% admit to checking social media while operating their vehicle —up from 13% in pre-pandemic times. People also report taking videos or pictures while driving. In fact, 19% say they do so as compared with just 10% in 2020. Finally, 17% admit to shopping online while behind the wheel — more than twice the amount of people (8%) who said the same in pre-pandemic days.
People also feel pressured to stay connected to work and that extends to taking calls in their cars. The survey indicates the pressures are real. Nearly half (48%) of business managers said they expect employees to respond frequently to work-related calls, texts or emails, as compared to 43% pre-pandemic.
So it’s not surprising that one in four people said they answer work-related calls and texts while driving.
Their reasons for doing so stem from a variety of anxieties. Specifically, 46% said they pick up work-related calls because it could be an emergency; 29% cite the fact that their supervisor would be upset if they failed to respond; and 22% simply can’t mentally unplug from work.
Noteworthy, 25% of drivers think U.S. roads are safer today than they were before the pandemic. Yet the findings from the survey clearly reveal that distracted driving is rising. In addition, telematics data used by Travelers shows that speeding also increased during the pandemic.
Experts say that lower traffic volumes during the early days of the pandemic may have given motorists a false sense of security, triggering these dangerous driving behaviors.
The survey also shows that a higher number of employers are concerned about liability from distracted driving. Some 27% indicated that they worry a great deal about their liability should an employee be involved in a collision due to distracted driving — that’s up from 21% in pre-pandemic times.