Thursday, September 21, 2023


Trip planning? Here are the states with the most distracted drivers

Dashboard dining. Rear-view mirror makeup time. Cell phone texting and talking. We once were passed by a driver with an open book propped up on her steering wheel. Whatever the siren call, too often the problem of distracted drivers becomes someone else’s problem. On U.S. roads, chalk up 9 fatalities each day due to distracted drivers. That’s 3,200 plus per year! Where are you most likely to have a “run in” with a distracted driver?

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge. Source:

A group called The Assurance IQ Team set out to find out the answer to that question. They surveyed 3,209 U.S. drivers across 44 states and a wide array of demographics from April 25 to May 12, 2023. Why not all 50 states? Not enough folks responded in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, so be warned!

Distracted drivers text – Where?

37% of U.S. drivers have texted while driving in the past month. In both Mississippi and New Hampshire, 50% of drivers admit to texting while driving in the past 30 days. Add these states to the “dishonor roll”: Missouri (49%), Alabama (48.1%), and Louisiana (48.1%). Out of those five states, three are located in the Deep South. Not everyone is text-ti-cating. Those states where this distraction is least reported includes: New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and New Jersey.

But not all distracted drivers are texting

Mind you, these are “self-reported” behaviors, so maybe because texting is considered such bad behavior, folks would rather ‘fess up to something else. See the chart of the ranking order of bad driving habits. How do they break out?

“Tuning up”: A staggering 68.9% of drivers are guilty of selecting music while behind the wheel. “Goofing with the GPS”: Over half (56.1%) of drivers admit to checking their GPS devices or navigation systems while driving. “Adult conversations”: 54.8% of drivers engage in conversations or interactions with adults who are with them in the vehicle. If your “conversation” borders on the emotional, keeping your eye (and mind) on the road tends to go “bye bye.”

Click to enlarge. Source:

“Dashboard dining”: 37.5% of drivers admit to eating while driving. “Kidding around”: Around 21.1% of drivers report being distracted by their kids while traveling. Conversations, disciplining children, or attending to their needs can divert attention and increase the risk of accidents.

Texting and emailing: Only 19.2% of drivers confessed to texting while driving. Typing, reading, or sending text messages diverts a driver’s attention visually, cognitively, and manually, significantly increasing the chances of collisions. Similarly, around 9.6% of drivers admit to checking their email while driving.

Making a phone call: 18.1% of drivers admit they make calls without using hands-free devices while driving. While seemingly not as dangerous as texting and driving, using handheld devices to make calls requires visual and cognitive attention, leading to distracted driving and decreased reaction times.

You may not need a phone for these behaviors

“Mirror, mirror, on the windshield”: About 11.9% of drivers look at themselves in the mirror while driving. Activities like styling hair or adjusting makeup can divert attention from the road and increase the risk of accidents. Although less common, about 2.1% of drivers apply makeup while driving.

“Tweets and TikToks”: Around 7.4% of drivers look at their social media feeds while driving. Seems unbelievable that someone could think they could scroll through social media or post updates without disaster!

And a few other confessions of distracted drivers

  • 7% of U.S. drivers regularly ignore no-texting laws while driving, yet only 2.9% of drivers have been pulled over while doing so.
  • 20% of drivers don’t know if their state has a law banning texting while driving.
  • 86% of Americans say they would feel unsafe in a car with a driver who was texting, but only 47% of Americans say they would feel unsafe if they were the ones texting while driving.
  • 26% of drivers have driven with AirPods or earphones in their ears.
  • 46% of drivers have honked their horns at another driver who was texting while driving.

Like the watch commander on CHIPS used to intone at the start of every shift: “Be safe out there!” Don’t become a statistic-maker. Keep your mind in the game and come back from your RV trip in one piece.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


  1. We have become a very distracted society. Everything is expected to be instant gratification now. I remember days of stopping at a phone booth to make an urgent call. In the old days I was guilty of looking at a paper map while driving. I don’t think chatting with other people in the car is all that distracting, at least not for me. I am hard of hearing, even with hearing aids, so I sometimes have to look at a person talking to me to “hear” what they are saying. But I never look over my shoulder at someone in the back seat, even my dogs…..

  2. I don’t believe the poll results at all. Way, way under reported, especially in the really low incidence states. Only 54% of people have held a conversation with another person in their car? Only 20% distracted by kids in the car? What a joke.

  3. Many states have laws to prevent distracted driving, at the same time discretion of law enforcement officers to enforce the law is a major concern. I lived in FL for a year, FL was one of the first states to enact the law about “ keep right except to pass” in response to the old people driving under the speed limit in the left lane. In the course of the last year I’ve witnessed LEO’s passing slower people on the right who were holding up traffic. Whether it’s weather related(it’s to hot to write tickets) or maybe some other reason. I don’t know, but they continued on their routine patrol, they were not enroute to somewhere else at the time. Getting them enforced is the trick.

  4. I have to disagree about Pennsylvania being one state having the least number of distracted drivers. I live near Pittsburgh and I would estimate 30-40% of the drivers are either talking, texting or just holding and staring at their phones while driving. It’s not limited to just younger drivers anymore.
    Originally the law forbade talking unless it was hands free. They changed the law to add texting, email and messaging, but removed the word ‘talking’.

    “It is illegal in Pennsylvania to use an electronic device while driving to send or receive texts, emails, or messages of any kind. If you are caught using your mobile device for any of the above purposes”. But very seldom enforced.

  5. For those with plans to travel through Michigan, know that the State has enacted some stiff penalties for distracted driving. A driver having a portable device in your hands will get you a ticket. Doesn’t even matter if it is turned on. Dash mounts are only slightly less likely to get you a ticket. If pulled over and police notice a device obviously for the driver’s use on an app that involves reading or more than a quick glance with more than a single button push, you may be ticketed.

    At the moment the Michigan State Police are still in the warning stage near the State borders until more warning signage is put in place. But the State is serious that the new laws will have teeth.

  6. For getting the best info on distracted drivers, ask the truck drivers. They are the ones who are out there on the roads, and driving over 100k miles a year. They have a seat that gives them a view to the interior of the cars. Truckers have to be on high alert, because over 75% of the accidents involving cars and trucks are caused by the drivers of the cars.

    • I agree with your statement but also have witnessed numerous truck drivers doing the same. We would see a truck grazing the rumble strips and then the dotted line all in less than a mile and sure enough the driver was distracted on their phone. I know we all have the best interest of safety in mind but when people are so comfortable behind the wheel those safety practices are soon forgotten.

    • We have passed so many truck drivers texting on a hand held device while driving a truck pulling one and sometimes two trailers this summer! And they do this while exceeding posted speed limits. And in construction zones! Driving 100K miles does not automatically make one a safe driver.


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