We’re #1… for unsafe drivers as national stats reveal numbers of distracted drivers

Published 11:18 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023

USAA has released data on distracted driving trends in the United States during the first half of 2023. The data, compiled from USAA’s SafePilot® telematics app, offers valuable insights into the states where drivers are most and least prone to distractions behind the wheel. The data comes at a time when more drivers have returned to the roads as more Americans are working from offices.

Through the first half of the year, USAA has seen an 18% increase in miles driven over the same period in 2022, along with a 10% increase in distracted driving behaviors, providing an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of avoiding distractions on the roads as it remains a leading cause of accidents and fatalities for Americans. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021, which is a 13% increase over pre-pandemic figures from 2019. Distracted driving is particularly dangerous because it diverts a driver’s attention away from the road, increasing the risk of accidents. Common distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating, or using in-car entertainment systems.

“At USAA, we are committed to helping create safer roads for everyone,” says Randy Termeer, USAA President of Property & Casualty. “By staying focused on the road and avoiding distractions, we can protect lives, reduce accidents, and make our communities safer for all.”

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USAA has compiled data highlighting the top 10 states with the most and least distracted drivers based on their smartphone distraction rates (percentage of driving time that was distracted).

Top 10 States with the Most Distracted Drivers (Jan. – June 2023)
These states exhibited the highest levels of distracted driving incidents, including texting, phone calls, and other smartphone distractions that divert drivers’ attention from the road.

State   Distraction Rate
1. Mississippi 17.8 %
2. Louisiana 16.8 %
3. South Carolina 16.5 %
4. Alabama 16.2 %
5. North Carolina 15.8 %
6. Georgia 15.5 %
*District of Columbia 14.9 %
7. Arkansas 14.7 %
8. Tennessee 14.5 %
9. Texas 14.0 %
10. Kentucky 13.8 %


Top 10 States with the Least Distracted Drivers (Jan. – June 2023)
These states demonstrated a commitment to safe driving practices, with fewer incidents of smartphone distractions compared to the national average of 12.1%.

State Distraction Rate
1. Vermont 6.8 %
2. Oregon 8.0 %
3. Minnesota 9.1 %
4. New Hampshire 9.5 %
5. Maine 9.6 %
6. Washington 10.1 %
7. Montana 10.2 %
8. Colorado 10.3 %
9. Nevada 10.3 %
10. Wyoming 10.3 %

USAA encourages all drivers, regardless of their state’s ranking, to prioritize safety behind the wheel. By taking simple precautions, we can collectively make the roads safer for everyone.

Here are 6 tips to help avoid distracted driving:

  • Put Your Phone Away: Silence or switch your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode and store it out of reach, such as in the glove compartment or the back seat.
  • Plan Ahead: Set your GPS, adjust your music, and settle any potential distractions before you start driving.
  • Avoid Multitasking: Focus solely on driving. Avoid eating, grooming, or any other activities that take your attention away from the road.
  • Pull Over if Necessary: If you must address something urgent, like a text message or an important call, find a safe place to pull over before doing so.
  • Inform Passengers: Ask passengers to help with navigation or other tasks that may distract you while driving.
  • Use Telematics Apps: There are several apps available that give feedback on driving habits such as speeding, harsh braking and hand-held phone use. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who use telematics apps.

USAA remains dedicated to promoting safe driving habits and will continue to raise awareness about the importance of distraction-free driving.

Driving data from SafePilot®, USAA’s behavior-based insurance app, leverages telematics technology to provide feedback on driving behaviors. SafePilot rewards safe driving with premium discounts; members who enroll receive up to a 10% discount for signing-up and continued policy discounts up to 30% for exhibiting safe driving behaviors. By incentivizing safe driving practices, SafePilot aims to reduce accidents, improve road safety and reward participants with discounts on their insurance.

“SafePilot goes beyond traditional insurance offerings by empowering individuals to take control of their insurance costs while promoting a culture of safe driving,” adds Termeer. “The program encourages members to be more mindful of their driving habits and make positive changes. Ultimately, it’s part of USAA’s broader commitment to fostering responsible driving behaviors and creating safer roadways.”

SafePilot is currently available in 47 states plus Washington D.C. For more information, visit usaa.com/SafePilot.