According to a survey by Finder, 66.9% of American adults say they believe financial literacy classes should be required in schoolRead more…
Safe Driving Report 2021
An estimated 154.9 million Americans admit to driving while distracted in the past year.
Driving while distracted is on the decline in the US, with 61% of American adults admitting to being distracted while behind the wheel, down from 91% in 2019.
We surveyed 2,059 American adults about their riskiest habits to learn who our most dangerous drivers are — and what’s causing them to live in harm’s way.
What are the most common risky habits?
The top distraction for US drivers is talking on the phone, with 42.4% of those surveyed — about 108 million drivers — admitting to answering their cell phone. This figure is up slightly from 41% in 2019. 25 states have banned handheld phone use without hands-free devices while driving.
The number of drivers admitting to speeding is also up compared with last year: 29.9%, representing some 76.4 million drivers, admitted to speeding in 2021 versus 27.6% of people surveyed in 2019.
Our phones show up again at third on the list for texting while driving, with 22.3% of Americans, or 56.9 million American drivers, admitting to texting while driving, which is illegal in 48 states. This figure is up 2.4% from 2019.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also rose in 2021, with an estimated 5.8% of Americans admitting to getting behind the wheel under the influence, compared to 4.8% in 2019.
What have you done while driving in the past year?
|Talking on the phone||44.90%||40.90%||42.40%|
|Driving while fatigued||18.10%||18.70%||18.10%|
|Driving under the influence||2.90%||4.80%||5.80%|
|I don’t get distracted||40.70%||43.50%||39.30%|
Let’s break down the data
Women are more likely to concentrate on their driving than men — 44.4% of women compared with 33.7% of men. Men are more likely than women to engage in dangerous driving behaviors in all categories surveyed, with men slightly more likely to talk on the phone (44.2% of men vs 40.7% of women) and text (24.8% of men vs 20.0% of women) while at the wheel.
Men are far more likely to drive under the influence (8.8% of men vs 3.1% of women), speed (33.7% of men vs 26.5% of women) or drive while fatigued (20.4% of men vs 16.0% of women).
Maybe surprisingly, men were also more likely to say they fixed their appearance while driving, with 11.0% of men admitting to primping behind the wheel, compared with 9.5% of women.
Women versus men: Who is more distracted?
|Talking on the phone||44.20%||40.70%|
|Driving while fatigued||20.40%||16.00%|
|Driving under the influence||8.80%||3.10%|
|I don’t get distracted||33.70%||44.40%|
Millennials are the generation most likely to get distracted behind the wheel, with only 31.3% of millennials saying they concentrate while driving. If you think that figure is bad, it’s 2.1% lower than in 2019 and 4.3% lower than in 2018.
The other generations fare better than millennials when it comes to focusing on the road, but they are far from perfect: 33.8% of Gen Xers say they concentrate while behind the wheel, down from 42.4% in 2019.
The youngest adult generation, Gen Z, were less likely to drive while distracted than millennials and Gen X, with 36.3% of Gen Z-ers saying they don’t get distracted while driving.
Boomers are the second-most likely to pay attention behind the wheel at 45.8%, while the older Silent Gen were the most likely to say they don’t drive distracted at 64.9%.
Millennials are more than three times more likely than boomers to drive drunk at 7.6% versus 2.5% of boomers, while Gen Z is almost four times more likely than boomers to drive drunk at 9.5%.
Bad driving habits by generation
|Selections||Gen Z||Millennial||Gen X||Baby Boomers||Silent Gen|
|Talking on the phone||45.30%||51.20%||46.70%||35.80%||18.2%|
|Driving while fatigued||23.90%||22.10%||21.30%||12.90%||5.4%|
|Driving under the influence||9.50%||7.60%||7.50%||2.50%||1.40%|
|I don’t get distracted||36.30%||31.30%||33.80%||45.80%||64.90%|
Drivers in committed relationships seem to drive more distractedly than those not in relationships. Respondents that were living with their significant other, married, or in a domestic partnership/civil union were more likely to say that they have driven in the past year while distracted than those that are unattached (70.9%, 67.3%, and 61.7%, respectively).
Widowers were the least likely to drive while distracted (39.6%), followed by people that are single (51.1%), separated (60.0%), and divorced (60.6%).
|Relationship status||% of respondents that drive while distracted|
|Single, but cohabiting with a significant other||70.90%|
|In a domestic partnership or civil union||61.70%|
|Single, never married||51.10%|
Generally speaking, those with lower income are less likely to drive while distracted compared to those with higher income. In other words, as income increases, the percentage of people who drive while distracted increases as well.
Selected bad driving habits by income
|Selections||$0 to $9,999||$10,000 to $24,999||$25,000 to $49,999||$50,000 to $74,999||$75,000 to $99,999||$100,000 to $124,999||$125,000 to $149,999||$150,000 to $174,999||$175,000 to $199,999||$200,000 and up|
|Talking on the phone||26.40%||29.00%||38.10%||47.00%||47.1%||57.60%||55.00%||50.00%||43.60%||63.00%|
|Driving under the influence||7.20%||6.00%||3.50%||4.50%||4.8%||3.20%||8.30%||16.70%||15.40%||16.70%|
|I don’t get distracted||58.40%||53.70%||43.50%||35.80%||33.8%||24.00%||26.60%||13.00%||35.90%||24.10%|
Distracted driving apps
Need some help training yourself not to Snapchat, Tweet or return a text while driving? Try a distracted driving app that can help you keep your eyes on the road instead of on your phone.
|TrueMotion Family Safe Driving|
|LifeSaver: Distracted Driving|
|AT&T DriveMode: Don’t Text & Drive, It Can Wait|
|Mojo: Rewards for Safe Driving|
Can car insurance help?
US drivers are involved in more than six million car accidents every year. In 2019, 2,895 people were killed in car crashes involving distracted driving. While car insurance can’t stop dangerous driving, it can help protect your finances if you’re in a fender bender — or worse.
No matter how focused your driving, compare car insurance policies and perks to find the best coverage you’re eligible for. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Finder’s data is based on an online survey of 2,059 US adults born between 1928 and 2003 commissioned by Finder and conducted by Pureprofile in April 2021. Participants were paid volunteers.
We assume the participants in our survey represent the US population of 254.7 million Americans who are at least 18 years old according to the July 2019 US Census Bureau estimate. This assumption is made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.16% margin of error.
The survey asked respondents whether they had done any of the following in the past year with the possible selections of: Texting; Talking on the phone; Grooming (e.g makeup, fix hair, nails, checked teeth); Speeding; Driving under the influence (drinking, drugs); Driving while fatigued; Argued with my spouse / child / significant other; Nothing, I concentrate on the road while driving; Other.
We define generations by birth year according to the Pew Research Center’s generational guidelines:
- Gen Z — 1997–2003
- Millennials — 1981–1996
- Gen X — 1965–1980
- Baby boomers — 1946–1964
- Silent generation — 1928–1945
We define geographical regions according to the divisions of the US Census Bureau.
Past Dangerous Driving surveys
You may also like
A survey of 2,001 Americans by Finder found that roughly one-fifth (20.6%) of Americans said that they wanted the minimum driving age to be raised in their state.Read more…
Finder created an interest in crypto score based on search interest for cryptocurrencies combined with crypto infrastructure for each state. California has the highest interest in cryptocurrency in the United States.Read more…
Finder compared 209 cities to find which were the most and least diverse. Scottsdale, Arizona was the least diverse city based on our analysis.Read more…
What is good and bad investment advice?Read more…
Teach your kids money management with these job ideas, including walking dogs, shovelings snow and teaching sports.Read more…
For media inquiries:
More guides on Finder
At what age should you be allowed to start driving?
A survey of 2,001 Americans by Finder found that roughly one-fifth (20.6%) of Americans said that they wanted the minimum driving age to be raised in their state.
State Farm Drive Safe and Save review
The discount program that saves you money when you drive safety.
Financial infidelity in America
Have you ever lied to your S.O. about your finances?
Porch pirates statistics
Porch piracy is alive and well, but there are ways to protect your deliveries this holiday season.
States with the strictest driving laws
If you’re relaxed behind the wheel, you’ll want to steer clear of these states with the strictest driving laws.
Senior driving stats
Compare the good and the risky sides of driving when you’re a senior.
How COVID-19 is impacting America’s financial decisions
Putting money into savings and divesting shares are just two financial moves Americans are planning to make in the coming months. See what else America is doing with its finances.
Lying on taxes: Who’s guilty?
Americans are more likely to cheat on their partner than on their taxes.
Deadliest cities for driving on St. Patrick’s Day
Don’t push your Irish luck by driving during the worst times on Shamrock Day.
When can I use my phone when driving?
When are you allowed to use your phone while driving in each state?
Ask an Expert