New Car Technology is Making Drivers More Distracted

A national survey of more than 1,000 U.S. drivers revealed a surprising disparity between our attitudes and behaviors when it comes to distracted driving. Esurance commissioned the survey to better understand distracted driving behaviors and whether or not high-tech car features, such as lane departure warning and automatic braking, are making drivers less distracted.

Distracted drivers willing to take the risk

Two things became increasingly clear in the survey results:

(1) Most drivers recognize that using technology like phones and GPS is distracting behind the wheel, and;

(2) They're willing to do it anyway. Ninety-one percent of surveyed drivers believe that texting while driving is distracting, while more than half (53 percent) of them admit to doing it anyway.


"Despite the fact that fatalities related to distracted driving are on the rise, this survey tells us that drivers are willing to take the risk and continue to give into the lure of using technology while driving," said Stephanie Braun, director, connected car at Esurance. "We're seeing more automakers try to address the issue of distracted driving through semi-autonomous features, but we're also mindful of the fact that some of these features could distract drivers even more and often give drivers a false sense of security."

Technology in cars making drivers feel safer, but more distracted

Forward-thinking automakers are working to make driving safer in the form of semi-autonomous technology, which is in-car tech features intended to do some of the driving. For example, that includes vehicles that can respond to upcoming hazards before the driver can.


Of those surveyed, nearly half (46 percent) of drivers with in-car tech features say it helps their driving, while 10 percent believe the opposite. Furthermore, some drivers are actually disabling these safety features. One out of four drivers who sought out tech in their new vehicles have since deactivated at least one feature. And overall, drivers with in-car tech tend to be slightly more distracted than those without it—29 percent admit that the warning sounds themselves (when you drift into another lane, for example) can be distracting.

Other interesting findings:

  • Even if truly self-driving cars were available now, most drivers aren't ready to give up the wheel—only 17 percent of surveyed drivers would sacrifice driving control to safely multi-task on the road.
  • Fifty-eight percent of drivers surveyed admit to some level of distracted driving, whether that's texting or navigating while driving. Not surprisingly, the survey respondents noted basic tech like mobile devices as the leading cause of their distraction (31 percent), followed by other drivers (30 percent) and personal distractions like interacting with other passengers and eating (20 percent).
  • Thirty percent of drivers say they give in to distractions when they're too busy or are multi-tasking, while another 25 percent will pick up their phone simply because they're bored.
  • One out of 10 surveyed has personally experienced a close call or accident caused by their own distracted driving. Another three out of 10 know someone who has experienced a distracted driving accident or close call.

To view additional survey results and infographics click here.

Survey methodology: Esurance conducted an online survey in December 2017 through January 2018 of 1,057 vehicle owners in the U.S. Drivers with car tech refers to owners of vehicles with warning systems (blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, collision warning, etc.) or driver override features (lane keep, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control). Additionally, 15 interviews were conducted in December 2017 with owners of high-tech vehicles. is a brand new distracted driving technology that just launched. It locks the device when motion is detected and provides an augmented reality-based 'Unlock Test' that a driver physically cannot complete while driving. No hardware required. Passenger friendly. Drivers blocked from device use.