‘Risky persona’ phone addicts have the most distraction-caused accidents

Phone addicts lead the list of ‘risky persona’ drivers in Zendrive’s nationwide study of driving behaviors. Aggressive drivers and speed demons are also more likely than most to have accidents, according to the report, but distracted smartphone junkies lead the pack.

Most states have laws against texting, and a growing number forbid handheld phone calls while driving. Despite the laws, distracted driving was cited as the primary cause of accidents that resulted in 3,450 fatalities in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data, the latest year reported.

Zendrive’s Driver Personas study employed machine learning methodology to analyze the behavior of 2.3 million anonymized U.S. drivers from December 2016 to February 2017. During that period, the group traveled 5.6 billion miles.

Drivers were grouped in cluster profiles during the first two weeks of the study. Seven factors determined the persona groupings:

  • Trip duration
  • Percent of miles driven on weekends
  • Hard brake and aggressive acceleration events per 100 miles of driving
  • Percent of hours driving at night
  • Percent of miles driven on highways
  • Percent of time speeding
  • Percent of time using the phone.

Measured by their deviance from average behaviors, six driver personas emerged from the study. The relative risk for each driver persona was calculated by dividing the total number of collisions by the number of drivers.

Three groups with the highest risk levels comprised 29 percent of all drivers: Phone Addicts (12 percent), Frustrated Lead-Footers (9 percent), and Speed Demons (8 percent). Phone addicts spent 3.2 times more than average on the phone while driving.

Frustrated Lead-Footers, 9 percent of drivers, had 2.9 times more than average acceleration and deceleration events per 100 miles. Speed demons, 8 percent of the study subject, exceeded legal limits 5.9 times more often than average drivers.

The remaining 79 percent of drivers, considered low risk, were: Neighborhood Navigators, Expert Commuters, and Weekend Cruisers. Defined as people who drive on highways only 0.5 percent of the time, Neighborhood Navigators made up the largest low-risk group, accounting for 29 percent of drivers.

Expert Commuters account for 26 percent of drivers and drive 1.4 times more driving on highways than average. Weekend Cruisers, the final low-risk group make up 18 percent of drivers and drive 1.9 times more on weekends than other drivers.

Do you wonder why your car insurance is so high? Check out the full Zendrive report, for higher and lower risk driver populations of each state. The ten states with the highest concentration of high-risk personas extend from Texas to Florida. The ten states with the lowest proportion of high-risk drivers are scattered across the northern border states, from Maine to Washington state.

Concern about driving and talking safety isn’t new. Almost fourteen years ago Digital Trends reported the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association’s (CTIA) recommended practices for phone use while driving.


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