Amid the overwhelming campaign by the U.S. government and advocacy groups against distracted driving, a new study reveals that Americans can’t live without using their smartphones — even while they drive.
A new study from driving focus app, Drivemode, reveals that driving data from 2.7 million Americans using Android phones between Jan. 2018 and April 30, 2019, show that over 167 million miles and 13.3 million hours, Americans use their phone for a better part of an hour in the car on average.
Drivers send one message and call for eight minutes every hour while driving
Results reveal that on average Americans spend 45 minutes or more than 74% of an hour listening to music. Although, listening to music may not be as distracting as other activities with the smartphone (if it does not include removing hands from the steering wheel or taking eyes off the road), the data also reveals that drivers perform music volume changes twice at a time and playback the previous song or clicking onto the next nine times per drive.
But music isn’t the most distracting activity. In addition to listening to music while driving, American drivers, on average, are also talking over the phone for eight minutes, which comprises 12% of an hour. Furthermore, they also spend 31.9 seconds to check voicemail messages.
If those numbers don’t sound trouble yet, the study also reveals that an average American driver sends and receives an average of one text and five replies respectively.
Texting while driving is probably the riskiest activity that American drivers do while they drive, as sending a text message requires a coordinated function of the hands, eyes, and thoughts, which ultimately distracts them from driving safely.
While voice-to-text is starting to become famous for drivers as an alternative to traditional texting, the study reveals that right now — SMS texting through the phone is the most popular method of texting among drivers that comprises almost half of the messages analyzed for the study. Then it’s nearly 24% through Whatsapp, followed by 20% through Facebook Messenger.
Campaigns against distracted driving
The government, especially the U.S. Transportation Department, has been launching campaigns to discourage drivers from using their smartphones while they drive. In 2016, the Transportation Department asked mobile phone manufacturers to help them in their fight against distracting driving by finding ways to discourage phone use while on the road.
The agency issued voluntary guidelines to phone manufacturers to include a “drive mode” that would disable some distracting functions in moving cars. They are also asking the manufacturers to find a way to make phone-car synchronization easier for users to facilitate hands-free using while driving.
“These common-sense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press statement.
Similarly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the Transportation Department launched the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” campaign to disincentivize drivers from texting while they use the highway in their cars.
“For the past decade, distracted driving has taken U.S. roadways by storm, endangering not only distracted drivers but also their passengers, those in other vehicles and pedestrians,” wrote NHTSA on its website.
“Talking on or manipulating your phone, adjusting the radio, applying makeup, eating, or drinking can all distract you from the essential task of safe driving. Far too many drivers succumb to the deadly—and often illegal—temptation that has emerged as one of the most common forms of distracted driving—texting. “
According to the agency, with their campaign, law enforcement will be hypervigilant in apprehending those who text and drive. They will be looking for distracted drivers and charging fines. Since 2007, drivers age 16-24 have been distracted by devices at higher rates than other drivers. Since 2012, female drivers are the most at-risk for fatal crashes involving distracted drivers, but we’re all at risk, and you can make a difference.
Furthermore, they also encourage drivers to pull over in case they feel like they need to send or receive a text or assign a “designated texter” if they are not alone in the car.