Revealed – top causes of distracted driving

Multiple factors contribute to danger on the road

Revealed – top causes of distracted driving

Motor & Fleet

By Ryan Smith

A new survey from The Travelers Companies has revealed the top causes of distracted driving.

The 2023 Travelers Risk Index examines the dangerous behaviors that happen on US roadways. While technology continues to be the top cause of distracted driving, other causes include drowsiness, heightened emotions and work-related stress, the study found.

“Distracted driving can have devastating consequences for families and communities, with accidents, injuries and fatalities on the rise,” said Michael Klein, executive vice president and president of personal insurance at Travelers. “Avoiding distractions while driving is more than just common sense – it’s a responsible and critical step in protecting lives and promoting public health.”

Seventy percent of survey respondents said they believe distracted driving is a greater problem now than it has been over the past few years, Travelers said. That finding is supported by estimates from the National Safety Council, which found that deaths from preventable traffic crashes were up 18% from pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

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The following are highlights from the Travelers survey:


Electronic devices were among the leading causes of distraction, the survey found. Activities that survey respondents acknowledged engaging in while driving included:

  • Making and receiving calls (80%)
  • Using handheld devices (57%)
  • Posting social media updates (28%)
  • Taking photos or videos (27%)

Employers also cited technology use while driving as an issue, with more than 30% of executives (a 19% spike from last year) reporting that their employees had been involved in crashes while driving for business due to distractions caused by their mobile devices.

Drowsiness, heightened emotions and work-related stress

The survey also found that emotional distraction, drowsiness and work-related stress were all significant contributors to unsafe driving behavior. More than 75% of respondents said they had experienced stress or intense emotions while driving, and 62% admitted to having driven while drowsy.

Thirty-seven percent of workers also admitted to having taken work-related calls, texts or emails while driving. When asked why, 44% said it might be a work-related emergency, and 43% said they felt obligated to always be available.

Safety tips

Survey respondents highlighted several strategies that could help them remain focused while driving, including:

  • A passenger requesting that the driver not use the phone (84%)
  • A financial reward for not using the phone while driving (83%)
  • An auto insurance discount (82%)
  • Increased monetary fines (81%)

“Driving is a series of micro-decisions made in quick succession throughout the course of a trip,” said Chris Hayes, assistant vice president of workers’ compensation and transportation, risk control, at Travelers. “Any type of distraction – a device, a sleepless night or stress – can make the difference between reaching your destination safely or not. We can all help make our roads safer by taking simple steps, such as putting our phones in ‘do not disturb’ mode, speaking up when we see a driver engaging in dangerous behaviors and not calling coworkers when we know that they’re behind the wheel.”

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