Report: Drivers are spending less time on their phone (Cambridge Mobile Telematics)

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Cambridge Mobile Telematics’ (CMT) The State of U.S. Road Risk in 2024 report includes analyses from over one billion car trips across millions of U.S. drivers. It shows that distracted driving fell by 4.5% in 2023, the first decrease since 2020. The report evaluates the various factors that can reduce distracted driving, including consent-driven usage-based insurance programs, hands-free legislation, and increased media coverage of the dangers of distracted driving. CMT estimates this reduction in distracted driving helped prevent over 55,000 crashes, 31,000 injuries, 250 fatalities, and close to $2.2 billion in economic damages in the U.S. in 2023.

In this report, CMT details for the first time distracted driving’s impact on crash severity. For example, imagine a driver who is traveling 40 mph on a 35 mph stretch of road and crashes. The driver brakes and the speed of impact is 25 mph. If that same driver crashes while making a handheld phone call, failing to brake in time, the speed at impact will be 33 mph, 8 mph faster. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research shows that a 5 mph rise in speed limits results in an 8% increase in fatality rates.

This spike in impact speed is especially concerning with the steady upward trend of phone motion events — handling the phone for any reason, bringing it closer to you or putting it down — that occur above 50 mph, with a 5% rise over 2020. With the increase in severity and speed at impact, CMT found that a 10% jump in distracted driving increases the fatality rate by 1.5%. Unfortunately, these distraction crashes happen frequently — 34% of crashes happen within one minute of distracted driving, according to CMT data.

Person with short brown hair holding a black cell phone up to their ear while driving a vehicle.