A new survey of 3,200 American drivers spotlights the most prevalent distracted driving behaviors.  -  Photo: Assurance

A new survey of 3,200 American drivers spotlights the most prevalent distracted driving behaviors.

Photo: Assurance

Mississippi and New Hampshire tie for the top place in the nation with the highest percentage of drivers — 50%, specifically — who admit to texting while driving in the past 30 days, according to a new survey from Assurance. In fact, the survey found that some 37% of drivers nationwide texted while behind the wheel in the past month.

Other states that ranked among the top five with the highest percentage of residents who have texted while driving in the last month are Missouri with 49%, followed by Alabama and Louisiana with 48%. Noteworthy, three out of the top five states with the worst track records for texting behind the wheel are located in the Deep South.

On the upside, New York ranks first for the fewest drivers — some 14%- that admit to texting while driving in the past 30 days. Other states that ranked among the top five for least percentage of texting drivers in the past month include Pennsylvania at 20%, Oregon at 22%, New Jersey at 23%, and Connecticut at 25%. Interestingly, four out of the five are east coast states.

The survey also explored the frequency of texting among drivers in various states. Drivers in West Virginia, Missouri, Texas, Rhode Island, and Tennessee tend to send the most texts while driving. While the average American driver texts while driving 4.8 times a month, West Virginia drivers text while driving 11.3 times a month on average. Missourians text while driving 10.9 times a month. In Texas, drivers admit to texting behind the wheel 8.5 times a month.

Most Prevalent Distracted Driving Behaviors

Texting is hardly the only distracted driving behavior dominating the nation’s roadways. Americans engage in far too much multi-tasking while behind the wheel — all of which can lead to collisions, injuries, and fatalities. In fact, a total of nine people die every day in the United States from distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The survey found that an alarming 68% of drivers are guilty of selecting music while behind the wheel. Over half (56%) of drivers admit to checking their GPS devices or navigation systems while driving. Some 37% of drivers eat while operating a motor vehicle. And, approximately 21% of drivers report being distracted by their kids while traveling.

Grooming while behind the wheel is another bad habit of American drivers. Approximately 11% of drivers look at themselves in the mirror while driving. Although less common, about 2% of drivers say they apply makeup while driving.

And, of course, there is cell phone use. Though experts say it is one of the worst problems, cell phone use behind the wheel actually ranked lower in this survey than many other distracted behaviors. For example, only 19% of drivers admitted to texting regularly while driving, and 9% said they check their email while driving. Finally, an estimated 7% of drivers say they scroll through their social media feeds while driving.

In 2021 alone, distracted driving took the lives of some 3,522 people on our nation’s highways and byways, according to NHTSA.

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