STUDY: 1 in 4 People Report Routinely Using a Cell Phone While Driving Staff Staff

It would likely be difficult to find anyone these days who doesn’t know that driving and using a cell phone at the same time is dangerous. But despite the amount of available data suggesting this danger is real, a substantial percentage of drivers still use phones when they drive.

In order to get a sense for how many people regularly use their cell phones while they drive, the research team conducted a survey of 1,115 US residents who are also frequent drivers.

Survey findings:

  • 24.6% of people who drive on a regular basis report routinely using their cell phones while driving.
  • 32.9% of those under 35 report regularly using their cell phones while driving.
  • Only 18% of those 55 and older report regularly using their cell phones while driving.
  • There is no statistically noticeable difference between how often male and female drivers use their cell phones while behind the wheel.

The National Safety Council estimates that there are tens of thousands of automobile crashes caused each year by drivers using their cell phones. Somewhere between 300-500 people are killed every year because of phone-related distracted driving. Because of these trends, most driving instruction courses now focus a large portion of their safety training on reminding drivers not to use their cell phones while driving, and most departments of transportation have run campaigns against texting and cell phone use while driving.

But despite all of this data, training, and messaging, a substantial percentage of drivers still confess to routinely using their cell phone while driving.

The research team took a survey of 1,115 US residents from around the US and 24.6% of people reported that they regularly use their cell phone when on the road. There were some clear breaks in age demographics, with younger drivers (those under 35 years old) being more likely to use cell phones than older drivers (those 55 years and older).

There was very little split between male and female drivers, both reporting similar cell phone usage along the same age trends seen above.

So why do people still use their phones while driving even though they know it’s dangerous? One common theme revealed itself when we spoke with several respondents.

“You assume it won’t happen to you,” one person said, about a potential accident happening because they used their cell phone while driving.

Like many things, people do not like to think about bad events that could happen to them, and are able to ignore the threat of a potentially dangerous activity. What are the odds that checking that one email or sending that quick text will result in a fatal accident? Fairly low of course. But it’s safe to assume this is the same way people who do cause accidents with their distracted driving think.


  • The survey asked 1,115 US residents from around the country about their cell phone usage while driving.
  • The survey ran January 1st – January 6th, 2021.
  • No personally identifying information was collected while surveying respondents.

About the Authors

The staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.