Published: September 1, 2022Updated: September 23, 2022

Survey Reveals How Many People Sext While Driving

Porn, dating apps, and sexting while driving — oh my!

Let’s be honest: Sometimes when we’re driving, our minds drift to places beyond the road in front of us. Whether it’s answering a quick text, changing to a different Spotify playlist, or even applying under-eye concealer at a red light, distracted driving can take many forms. Autoinsurance.com’s new survey reveals the surprising (and sometimes naughty) behaviors people engage in while driving.

At best, you could receive a ticket or fine for doing these things, which could make your car insurance premium shoot up. At worst, you could cause an accident — a fatal one. The good news is that you are completely in control of whether or not you drive distracted, and helpful alternatives exist.

You Are Guilty of Driver Distraction If…

Many people think of distracted driving as only texting and driving, but the truth is, you are guilty of distracted driving if you drive while doing the following:

  • Using your phone in any way, even if it’s just to look at Google Maps
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking on the phone, even using Bluetooth
  • Playing games

Taking your eyes off the road and other cognitive distractions can lead to motor vehicle crashes, especially if you’re a novice driver. Many drivers have probably committed one or more of the above actions, but what some people do while driving may surprise you.

The Bad Behaviors People Do While Driving

Autoinsurance.com surveyed more than 1,000 licensed adults in the United States about their distracted driving habits. We found that most people drive distracted, with over 9 in 10 people admitting to viewing maps or directions while driving. But sexting while driving or watching pornography? Yeesh!

Phone activity PPercentage who have done this while driving PPercent who regularly do this while driving
Viewing maps or directions 92% 70%
Making voice calls 88% 40%
Writing, sending, or reading texts 73% 26%
Browsing social media 38% 10%
Looking at photos 31% 7%
Watching short videos 19% 5%
Playing games 9% 2%
Watching movies 7% 3%
Using dating apps 5% 1%
Sexting 4% 1%
Watching pornography 4% 1%

Teen distracted driving is even more dangerous because teens are less experienced drivers. In our survey of 18- to 24-year-olds, 91 percent of respondents admitted to texting and driving — but that’s not all.

How often do you do the following activities while driving? Never, low to high Rarely (less than 10% of the time) Occasionally (10%-30% of the time) Sometimes (30%-50% of the time) Frequently (50%-70% of the time) Usually (70%-90% of the time) Always
Use apps for maps or directions 7% 3% 8% 15% 33% 26% 7%
Eat or drink 9% 18% 26% 26% 14% 6% 2%
Talk on the phone 10% 22% 25% 22% 15% 7% 0%
Write, send, or read text messages or emails 20% 25% 22% 18% 9% 5% 1%
Interact on social media 56% 19% 11% 7% 5% 0% 2%
Look at photos on my phone 68% 17% 6% 4% 3% 2% 0%
Watch short videos 76% 13% 5% 4% 2% 0% 0%
Watch movies 92% 4% 1% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Play games 93% 4% 1% 1% 0% 0% 1%

While these rates are actually lower than those for the general population, what makes them so scary is that drivers ages 15 to 20 are 33 percent more likely to die in distracted driving-related crashes than any other age group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
distracted driving fatal crashes

How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?

Every state has different cell phone usage laws, which correlate with distracted driving rates. After all, if you’re legally allowed to text and drive, what’s the big deal? Put simply, death and injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)1, in 2020, 8 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities involved distracted driving. In the U.S., 3,142 people were killed while driving distracted. Although looking down at your phone for three seconds may not seem like a big deal, the truth is that collisions take less than three seconds to occur and the consequences can be permanent.

Aside from the risk you face of injury or death, distracted driving can also cause higher car insurance costs, fines, points, tickets, or a suspension of your license or registration. Worse, if you kill someone while driving distracted, you could face manslaughter charges and imprisonment.2

States With the Most Fatalities From Distracted Driving

The data below, from the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)3, shows how common it is, by state, to die in a fatal crash caused by distracted driving.
fatal crashes from distracted driving by state
Take New Mexico, for instance, where 38 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2020 involved distracted driving. In the Land of Enchantment, people are allowed to use cellphones while driving, except for commercial drivers. But even if a commercial driver is caught using their phone while driving, the fines are minimal: only $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.4 With few penalties, if any, for phone use while driving, it isn’t shocking that New Mexico has the highest percentage of fatal crashes involving distracted driving.

Compare that to New Jersey, a densely populated state where only 1 percent of fatal crashes involve distracted driving. In the Garden State, drivers aren’t allowed to use any handheld devices while driving. If they break this rule, they can face serious punishments.

  • Fines: In New Jersey, distracted driving convictions can cost $200 to $400 for the first offense, $400 to $600 for the second offense, and $600 to $800 for each subsequent offense. That noise you hear is your wallet saying “ouch.”
  • Points: You also get three points on your record for your third and subsequent offenses, which could increase your auto insurance premium, as insurance companies will consider you a high-risk driver.5

 

FYI

While New Jersey has strict distracted driving laws, it also has some of the lowest car insurance requirements in the U.S., requiring only $5,000 worth of property damage liability and $15,000 per person/accident of personal injury protection.6

6 Alternatives to Driving Distracted

It seems that banning texting does lead to less distracted driving and thus lower fatality rates, according to data state police reported to federal agencies. Find out what the laws regarding cellphone use while driving are in your state.

Fortunately, technology has made it possible to access what you need while still staying focused on the road, though it’s still better to be safe than sorry and avoid phone usage altogether while driving.

6 Alternatives to Driving Distracted

There are many solutions to driving while distracted. From using advanced technology to simply practicing common sense, here are some of the best ways to stay focused on the road.

  1. Use Do Not Disturb (DND) mode. Most smartphones have a DND mode, and we’re not talking about Dungeons & Dragons. DND mode will block any messages and notifications you receive while driving. This is a great method for avoiding all the distracting buzzes and dings your phone makes to steal your attention.
  2. Put your phone away. You know what they say: out of sight, out of mind. Storing your phone in the glove compartment while you drive could be all you need to stay focused. Just be sure to fight the pull to reach out and grab it — that in and of itself would be seriously distracting.
  3. Drive in the right state of mind. Don’t drive hungry, drowsy, tipsy, or drunk. These states make distracted driving more likely because you may be tempted to eat or engage in other distracting behavior as you drive.
  4. Pull over. If you absolutely need to call or text someone, pull over to a safe area, turn your car off, and then do what you gotta do. It’s not worth the risk of multitasking while your car is in motion.
  5. Use your passengers. Got passengers? Use them as your personal assistants, doing your bidding for you on your cell phone while your mind stays on getting to your destination safely.
  6. Speak to voice assistants. Some states allow you to use cellphones while driving as long as they’re in hands-free mode. While this isn’t ideal, voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are the safest options for cellphone use while driving.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you’re a parent of a teen driver, mobile apps like TrueMotion Family can tell you if your teen is using their phone while driving.

For more information, see all of Autoinsurance.com’s car insurance research.

Citations

  1. Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST). NHTSA. (2022, Aug).
    https://cdan.dot.gov/query

  2. Articles Organized by Areas of Law. HG.org. (2022.
    https://www.hg.org/articles-for-260-areas-of-law.asp

  3. Fatality Facts 2020 State by state. IIHS. (2020).
    https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state

  4. HOUSE BILL 104. New Mexico Legislature. (2015). https://www.nmlegis.gov/sessions/15%20Regular/bills/house/HB0104.PDF

  5. Distracted Driving Overview. The State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. https://www.nj.gov/lps/hts/phone_down_overview.html

  6. Get Legal with New Jersey’s Basic Auto Insurance Policy. State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance. (2011). https://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/basicpolicy.shtml

  7. Get Legal with New Jersey’s Basic Auto Insurance Policy. State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance. (2011). https://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/basicpolicy.shtml