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Distracted driving is killing us. These cities are the worst offenders

Distracted driving is killing us. These cities are the worst offenders
[Photo: Hassan OUAJBIR/Pexels]

We’ve all done it: You’re driving along, a text comes in, and even though you know you shouldn’t do it, you take a quick peek. Distracted driving is common and, according to a new report from Zendrive, the distracted driving epidemic is getting worse all the time. Even if you don’t text while driving, smartphones offer plenty of other distractions, like following your GPS directions or choosing the perfect playlist for your drive.

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According to the study, drivers nationally are 10% more distracted now than they were in 2018, with an increase apparent in every single state and city analyzed.

For Zendrive’s annual Distracted Driving Snapshot, the driving behavior analytics company analyzed anonymized data from 1.8 million drivers who rolled across 4.5 billion miles of road during a three-month period. They also surveyed 500 people about distracted driving attitudes and found that the situation is pretty dire—and with equally dire results.

Pedestrian fatalities are at a 30-year high, primarily due to distracted driving, according to Zendrive’s study. If the fear of hitting a pedestrian isn’t enough to get you to drop the phone, distracted driving also increases the risk of all types of collisions by 83%, and while I’m not great at math, that sounds like a lot of percentage points.

While 90% of the people Zendrive surveyed claimed to be safe drivers, 47% of them also admitted to using phones 10% or more of the time while driving, classifying them as “Phone Addicts,” who actively ignore the road 28% of the time they’re driving and, per Zendrive, “are more of a public danger than drunk drivers.

“Using the phone while driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the road,” said Jennifer Smith, executive director of Stopdistractions.org. “Distracted driving has become a full-fledged epidemic.”

Luckily, tech companies are starting to recognize the need to curb distractions while driving. Apple users can switch on “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode on their iOS devices, while Android users have “Android Auto,” which uses Google Assistant to help you keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.

City Rankings: Most Distracted to Least Distracted (2019 average percent of time people spent using their phones while driving)

  • Houston (9.44%)
  • Dallas—Fort Worth—Arlington, TX (9.23%)
  • Detroit (8.85%)
  • Denver—Aurora, CO (8.43%)
  • San Diego (8.37%)
  • Miami (8.32%)
  • Boston (8.22%)
  • San Jose (8.19%)
  • Philadelphia—NJ—DE—MD (8.12%)
  • Austin, TX (7.97%)
  • Los Angeles—Long Beach—Anaheim, CA (7.86%)
  • San Francisco—Oakland, CA (7.82%)
  • Washington, DC—VA—MD (7.8%)
  • Chicago, IL—IN (7.79%)
  • Pittsburgh (7.6%)
  • Atlanta (7.31%)
  • New York—Newark, NY—NJ—CT (7.28%)
  • Portland, OR—WA (7.25%)
  • Seattle (7.13%)
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