2020 was the year that changed everything, but how did it change the way we drive? Drawing from 185-billion miles of data, Zendrive’s Collision Report uncovers the underlying behaviors connected to crashes.
For the first time ever, we are revealing deeper insight into the relationship between driving behavior and collisions. Upon analyzing a subset of over 86,000 collisions from a dataset of hundreds of thousands of collisions, Zendrive found that 57% of all crashes involve phone use.
In our findings, we uncovered that nearly 17% of all crashes involve phone use 5 seconds prior to impact.
Chart 1: Percentage of Collision Trips with Phone Distraction 60-seconds Before Impact
This means that nearly one in every five crashes can be directly attributed to a phone-related distraction.
On an aggregate level, we saw the following trends in our collision data...
With 57% of all collisions involving at least one instance of phone use, we found that collisions related to phone usage are widely underreported. As the pandemic has led to new levels of technology and phone addiction, has it really led to an increase in crashes despite fewer cars on U.S. roads in 2020?
The data has spoken:
Collisions per million miles have increased by 63% on U.S. roads compared to January
To understand the impact of the pandemic on driving behaviors, we analyzed the trip data from three different time frames: pre-lockdown (January), post-lockdown (March), and the latest surge of the virus (October and November). We will start by analyzing phone distraction duration in Chart 2 below.
Chart 2: Phone Distraction Duration Monthly Comparison
On the surface, our data shows that the duration of phone usage while driving, at an aggregate level, has gone down. However, there has been an alarming increase in phone usage frequency. In other words, drivers across the U.S. may not be using their phone for longer durations but they are using their phone more frequently. As the aforementioned collisions data shows, almost 1 out of 5 collisions can be attributed to a phone usage event 5 seconds prior to the crash. The following chart (Chart 3) shows the increase in phone usage events per 100 miles.
Chart 3: Phone Distraction Frequency Monthly Comparison
We observed a similar trend for speeding. It can be seen in the chart below (Chart 4) that there has been a steady decrease in speeding. This is not surprising as the traffic levels started returning to normalcy after lockdowns were lifted earlier in the year.
Chart 4: Driver Speeding Monthly Comparison
However, on a deeper level, our data shows that there has been a significant increase in shorter episodes of speeding aggressions behind the wheel. The following chart shows the increasing trend of rapid acceleration (see Chart 5).
Chart 5: Rapid Acceleration Monthly Comparison
Despite the decrease in speeding, we identified a 36% increase in rapid acceleration events between January and November. This increase in rapid acceleration events, paired with an increase in phone distraction frequency explains the steep 63% increase in collisions between January and November. Hiding in plain sight, these subtle changes in our behavior can become the perfect storm as these shifts remain unaddressed.
Which of the top 25 cities in the U.S. with the highest resident population ranked highest and lowest for phone distraction and speeding? As part of our analysis of U.S. Major Cities, Jacksonville, Florida topped the charts for most lead footers and phone addicts in a single city. Drivers in Boston, Massachusetts, however, have managed to get the first place first for lowest phone distraction and second for lowest speeding rates.
Top 5 Cities with the Highest Phone Use
Top 5 Cities with the Lowest Phone Use
Top 5 Cities with the Highest Speeding
Top 5 Cities with the Lowest Speeding
As we close 2020, one thing is certain: the network effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have an impact on U.S. roads. With 57% of all collisions on U.S. roads influenced by phone distraction behind the wheel, all stakeholders must join hands to combat the Distracted Driving epidemic.
Between January and November of 2020, the 63% increase in collisions per million miles is just one of the many indications that, now more than ever, driver safety is at severe risk. We encourage all drivers to consider the repercussions of even the slightest distraction caused by their mobile devices. Enterprises, governments, and individuals can work collectively to reduce the number of collisions caused by phone distraction – and most importantly – save lives.
We invite you to download a full complimentary copy of our U.S. Collisions Report and share this infographic with others. Finally, we would love to wish everyone a safe holiday season and a prosperous New Year – safe driving!