Four in five Americans have been involved in a car accident due to distracted driving

Hannah Norton

Jul 20, 2023

Generally speaking, drivers face many risks of becoming distracted while on the road. So, ignoring or removing those distractions, where possible, is the best way to stay safe. With new technology emerging all the time, the concern around distracted driving is more prominent than ever before, which is why getting good car insurance is so important. For instance, Statista found that as many as 74% of US drivers have spoken on a mobile phone at least once before while driving.1

This made us want to delve deeper into people’s driving habits, to help raise awareness of the different hazards every driver should be cautious of. So, we polled Americans and Australians to find out if they had ever been in an accident caused by distracted driving. We conducted two separate surveys consisting of 1,000 respondents, 750 from the USA and 250 from Australia.

We also looked into the reasons why people become so distracted while driving, how much the damage has cost them, and what model of the car they were driving at the time.

Infographic showing the most common ways that drivers in America get distracted on the roads.

Four in five drivers in the US were involved in distracted driving accidents

When it comes to American drivers, our research found that, shockingly, four in five (81%) of US drivers have been involved in a car accident due to distracted driving.

As many as 59% of Americans admitted they’ve been involved in, or injured in a car accident because of distracted driving. This proves how much of an impact this can have on motorists on the road, and how these distractions need combatting to improve overall safety while driving.

Over 2/5 of Americans said the weather was the most distracting factor

When asked which distractions led to incidents and accidents on the road, American drivers claimed weather conditions played the biggest part of all, at a startling 41%. This was followed by eating or drinking (33%), plus, 32% of people stated that dealing with children or pets was the third most distracting factor.

Americans driving a Honda Civic were most at risk of distracted driving

When referring to a specific car model, the Honda Civic ranked most likely for being involved in American car accidents caused by distractions when driving, at 8%. Next came the Toyota Camry (7%) and the Toyota Corolla (7%).

However, the highest percentage of all was motorists driving cars other than those listed in our survey, with 31% of drivers stating ‘other’ when involved in a car accident caused by distractions. This means cars outside of the car list we provided are, clearly, more at risk of disrupting drivers’ attention, leading to a collision or road accident.

13% of US drivers also stated that their vehicle had been written off, due to a distracted driving incident. Not to mention, the average damage to a vehicle in the States was a whopping $1,505.02 when relating to distracted driving.

Smart technology plays a part in distracting US drivers

When asked if smart technology has affected or unaffected drivers’ attention on the road, US motorists said they felt their attention has been hindered by technology systems while behind the wheel (21%). Perhaps then, further attention is needed when a driver first gets their car, so they can become more used to the advanced technology it’s equipped with, such as car sensors, reverse cameras, the Satnav and in-car music systems.

Infographic showing the most common ways that drivers in Australia get distracted on the roads.

Nearly half of Australian drivers were in an accident caused by distracted driving

Australian drivers were also quick to admit that distracted driving has led to a vehicle accident, due to themselves or another driver, with nearly half of the respondents stating so (45%).

62% of Australian drivers claimed they had been in a collision or car accident due to a distraction, but out of those, no one was injured. It was only 18% of Australians that stated distracted driving led to an accident with notable injuries. It’s still worth noting, though, that 79% of Australian drivers had been involved in a collision to begin with, which is cause for concern. This brings the need to reduce distractions a priority for drivers.

Weather conditions also distracted Australian drivers the most

As natural as it is, it seems varying weather conditions are the major reason for distracted driving amongst Australians, with 42% of drivers stating so. After the weather came the distractions of dealing with children or pets (35%), having other passengers in the car (30%), and eating or drinking while driving (26%).

This was followed by an outside object, person or event, at 23%. It appears, then, that Australians are most distracted by other people and pets, more than anything else, after weather conditions.

Australians think smart technology contributes to distracted driving

It seems new technology in cars, such as a Satnav, reverse cameras and sensors, may be handy at times, but Australian drivers felt they distract them too easily. As, 23% of respondents admitted their attention has been hindered by technology systems while driving.

The car models posing the most distractions in Australia

It seems the highest percentage of cars involved in road accidents, caused by distracted driving, weren’t any of the car models listed for respondents. The highest amount was 44% for ‘other’ cars that weren’t mentioned in the survey, so clearly, the models we listed weren’t as distracting as some others on the market.

Otherwise, the Toyota Camry was the car model most involved in distracted driving accidents, at 10%, followed by the Toyota Corolla (9%) and Mazda CX-5 (5%). The average damage caused to AU drivers’ cars was a startling $1,279.93, with 21% of drivers claiming their vehicle has been written off as a result of distracted driving accidents.

Tips on how to stay safe on the road

Staying safe on the road is so important, which means minimising distractions that could cause you to drive dangerously. A very useful tip is to follow the two-second rule. This maintains a safe distance between you and the car ahead.

As well as this key safe driving tip, we’d recommend the following to reduce distractions when you’re behind the wheel:

  • Plan your journey before setting off: This reduces confusion and distractions that can be caused by your Satnav.
  • Drive slowly and cautiously in bad weather conditions: A change in weather can cause major distractions, so ensure you slow down, drive carefully, and take time to concentrate on new hazards ahead.
  • Utilise driving mode on your mobile phone: One single message or missed phone call can cause distractions, so ensure your phone is placed in driving mode before you set off.
  • Safely secure your pets: If you’re travelling with your pets, make sure they are safely, securely, and legally fastened. Because if you become worried about your beloved pets while travelling, distractions are inevitable.

Adrian Taylor, General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market Australia states: “With drivers now having more distractions than ever, they must be aware of how small distractions can lead to big consequences. Some are even illegal, such as using your phone while driving, even if this is just for a few seconds. It also extends to other distracting devices such smartwatches.

“Becoming more alert of the danger of distractions on the road will make everyone’s driving experience a lot smoother, and more importantly, a lot safer.

“It is also important to keep in mind that if you are involved in an accident and found to be at fault due to distracted driving, your claim may be declined with your car insurance provider. Always be sure to check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before taking out a policy so that you understand what limits, exclusion and restrictions you could face.”


3Gem was commissioned in June 2023 to survey 1,000 adults in America and Australia.