Report: Zoom meetings and masks are new distracted driving factors

April 9, 2021

Tyson Fisher


A distracted driving study conducted by Root Insurance reveals how often people check their phones behind the wheel and a new form of distraction: video conferences.

In a report released on April 6, Root Insurance analyzed the phone habits of motorists while they are driving. According to the report, the average American driver used their phone once every 5.5 miles last year. New to the discussion, a survey found that more than half of Americans said they have trouble concentrating while driving after video chatting, which Root Insurance calls “Zoom zombies.” Also new to distracted driving, the survey found that masks can be a distraction for 41% of drivers who keep one in their cars.

More than two-thirds of Americans said they use their phones to multitask more often since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is especially true for the younger generations. Nearly 90% of Gen Z and millennials said they use smartphones to multitask. Since phones can be carried around anywhere, that multitasking can be taken to the vehicle. More than 60% of those who drive with a phone said the sound of a call or text makes them want to look at their phone.

Last year saw an increase in cellphone distracted driving.

In 2020, 66% reported checking their phone while driving, up from 58% the previous year. That number has dropped slightly to 64% this year so far. More than half check their phones within 30 minutes, with a quarter of surveyed drivers checking the screen within 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, nearly a third are under the impression they can drive safely while using their phone. That is up from 24% last year. Again, the younger generations have a higher rate of confidence. Half of Gen Z participants feel safe behind the wheel using their phone, while 42% of millennials feel the same. Despite this confidence, more than 90% believe multitasking or even checking their phone impacts their driving.

Root Insurance’s survey reveals how more dependent Americans have become on their phones after a pandemic has left millions working at home and unable to attend social events. As the nation gets closer to normal and people return to the office and drive more, this dependency on phones may potentially increase the number of distracted driving crashes.

“COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way we interact with our vehicles,” Root Insurance CEO Alex Timm said in a statement. “As many abruptly shifted to a virtual environment, Americans’ reliance on technology dramatically increased along with their screen time, causing a majority of drivers to carry this distracted behavior into their vehicles.” LL


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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.