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A 2024 research report released by the Governors Highway Safety Administration, in partnership with Cambridge Mobile Telematics, reflects some appalling new statistics on distracted drivers. In the study, 1600 people completed a survey on their own phone usage while driving. Of the 10 most used apps, phone calls were made the least.

It seems Instagram is the distraction of choice for the respondents, with 24% saying they use the app while operating a car. 20% of drivers said they use the phone’s camera, and the same percentage use WhatsApp.

19% of the 1600 said they had used YouTube while driving in the last month. Productivity apps like Gmail, Google Chrome, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Afterpay were used by almost 20% of the drivers.

The report says that of all age groups surveyed, people aged 30-44 were the most prone to phone usage while driving. That age group uses Instagram the most, 28% of them. Following Instagram in order of reported usage were WhatsApp, the phone camera, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger.

Cell phone sits on center console of car close view
Santiaga via iStock

Just put the phone down, please

The GHSA had strong words for folks thinking they could drive and use their phone simultaneously. “Contrary to what some may believe, driving is a complex task that requires the driver’s full attention,” the report says. “When smartphone use is added to the equation, the driver simply can’t process what is happening around them and make the split-second decisions needed to avoid a crash.”

In 2021, distracted driving played a part in 28% of all traffic fatalities, or 12,405 deaths – which were 100% preventable. The GHSA recommends drivers put their phones on Do Not Disturb and have a passenger use the phone as needed. If you’re alone, pull over safely if you find you need to look at your phone.

It’s one thing to listen to entertainment while driving but quite another to engage in any visual distraction. Please leave social apps, work emails, and video consumption for when you’re not operating a car. Let’s reverse the 2021 preventable traffic deaths and bring the figure down to zero.