Distracted Driving During Back-to-School Has Grown 15% Since 2020

New data from Cambridge Mobile Telematics shows a consistent rise in distracted driving from early August until Labor Day

Cambridge, MA, August 10, 2023 Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics service provider, today announced an analysis that shows that phone screen interaction during the back-to-school period has increased from 2020 to 2022. In 2020, drivers spent 1 minute and 52 seconds on their phones per driving hour from August 1 through Labor Day. By 2022, this distraction rose to 2 minutes and 9 seconds, a 15% increase.

CMT’s data shows that every 10% rise in distracted driving increases the crash rate by 1.4%. CMT estimates that the 15% increase in distracted driving during the back-to-school season was responsible for an additional 31,000 crashes, 80 fatalities, and over $740 million in economic damages in 2022. It’s something auto insurers are taking note of.

“Distracted driving is and continues to be a concern for everyone on the roads, especially during the busy back-to-school season,” said Grady Irey, UBI and product innovation vice president at American Family Insurance. “As one of the country’s leading auto insurers, we’re continuing to explore ways to incentivize customers through our DriveMyWay program or other usage-based car insurance programs to end distracted driving.”

Distracted driving has been higher during the back-to-school period in two out of the past three years. Compared to the rest of the year, distracted driving was 5.7% higher in 2020 and 5% higher in 2021 during back-to-school. In 2022, there was an encouraging 3.7% decrease in distracted driving during back to school.

“With these data-driven analyses, we’re working to educate people on the dangers of distracted driving and sounding the alert on disturbing distraction trends that would otherwise be invisible to drivers,” said Matt Fiorentino, VP of Marketing for Cambridge Mobile Telematics. “For everyone with kids going back to school or who lives or drives near a school, this 15% increase in distraction should be a wake-up call. Any moment of distracted driving can have irreversible and devastating outcomes.”

According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teenagers. In 2020, about 2,800 teenagers were killed in car crashes in the US, nearly eight every day. Hundreds more are injured. Nearly half of all fatal car crashes involving teenagers happen during the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. CMT’s survey data shows that young people are 40% more likely to drive distracted every day.

CMT defines screen interaction as any tapping behavior on the phone’s screen while the vehicle is in motion. This can include everything from writing an email or a text to using an app, entering a phone number, playing a game, and more. The most distracted drivers are 240% more likely to crash.

For more insights about distracted driving across the United States since 2020, see CMT’s 2023 distracted driving report: The State of Distracted Driving in 2023 & the Future of Road Safety.

About Cambridge Mobile Telematics

Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) is the world’s largest telematics service provider. Its mission is to make the world’s roads and drivers safer. The company’s AI-driven platform, DriveWell®, gathers sensor data from millions of IoT devices — including smartphones, proprietary Tags, connected vehicles, dashcams, and third-party devices — and fuses them with contextual data to create a unified view of vehicle and driver behavior. Companies from personal and commercial auto insurance, automotive, rideshare, smart cities, wireless, financial services, and family safety industries use insights from CMT’s platform to power their risk assessment, safety, claims, and driver improvement programs. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with offices in Budapest, Chennai, Seattle, Tokyo, and Zagreb, CMT serves millions of people through over 95 programs in 25 countries, including 21 of the top 25 US auto insurers.

*Estimates based on the change in crash rate from distracted driving and data from NHTSA’s report The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2019: $340 billion in crash damages from 14.2 million crashes in 2019, averaging $23,954 per crash

Media Contact: 

Lisa-Marie Pascuccio lpascuccio@cmtelematics.com

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