How did Trump’s election surprise impact distracted driving?

How did Trump’s election surprise impact distracted driving?
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Key Takeaways

The November 8th election last month was historic. More than half the country headed to the polls, and many by car. So what was it like on the roads on Election Day?

To find out, Zendrive examined driving behavior on November 8th. We looked at over 1.8 million trips and 400,000 drivers and found fewer speeding events on Election Day morning and afternoon commute hours (compared to typical Tuesdays) and an increase in distracted driving events as poll results came in.

Read on to find out more.

Traffic behavior on Election Day

We compared driving behavior on November 8th to two “typical” Tuesdays (November 1st and October 25th). Below is a chart illustrating the number of trips we detected in the country throughout the course of the day.


Looking at overall traffic, the number of trips on Election Day peaked at the same lunchtime period (noon – 4pm) as prior Tuesdays.

However, unlike typical Tuesdays, traffic on Election Day morning (6am – 10am) was approximately 15% higher than normal with an approximate increase in drivers of 10%. Possible explanations of this uptick in morning traffic include more people driving to the polls and extra trips from people driving to work to head to the polls.

Safer speeds on Election Day

We then took a look at speeding and phone use. We first looked at differences in the number of speeding and phone use between two “typical” Tuesdays. Variation between typical Tuesdays is minimal and only by a few percentage points.

Differences between speeding behavior on Election Day and November 1st are much more marked.


We observed a tendency towards fewer speeding events on Election Day.

During the morning commute hours of 6am – 10am, there was more than 8% decrease in the number of speeding events per 1000 trips compared to the Tuesday before (Nov 1). This is much larger than the variation between typical Tuesdays of 1 – 3% for speeding events.

Furthermore, during the peak hours of 2pm – 4pm there was a greater than 12% decrease in the number of speeding events per 1000 trips on Election Day compared to typical Tuesdays.

Perhaps drivers used extra caution to observe road signs and the “world” around them on Election Day.

Furthermore, it’s possible that drivers on Election Day may be more likely to be safer, law-abiding drivers. For these drivers, fulfilling the duty to vote and driving safely may both constitute being a good citizen.

Drivers distracted by election updates

Though lower than typical in the first half of the day, phone use while driving began growing at 2pm. By 8pm, phone use is more than 10% greater and by 11pm almost 35% greater on Election Night.

Drivers could have been texting to friends and family and more eager to check the news, social media and other communication outlets on their devices as election results and updates streamed in.

Dangers of distracted driving

One out of four crashes involve phone use and phone use increases crash risk by 4X.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting is about 6X more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated.

90% of crashes are due to human error. As we head towards a New Year and New Presidency, drivers need to remember to practice good driving behavior.

Even in the most exciting of times, we need to keep our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel – away from our phones!

Contact us directly to learn more about Zendrive and our studies.

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