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Car Sense

Distractions #whiledriving Take a Doubly Scary Turn

Updated content as of April 18, 2018

People aren’t just multitasking at work and at home. They’re also doing double duty while driving. Erie Insurance analyzed social media data to better understand what drivers are doing behind the wheel.

Looking at Twitter and Instagram posts that came from mobile devices and used the popular hashtag #whiledriving, we found that the top five hashtags used in tandem with #whiledriving included clouds, sunset, sky, nature and sun. This strongly suggests that people are snapping pictures of beautiful scenery and posting them to social media while operating their vehicles. The ERIE hashtag analysis also found that men were more likely to be double distracted than women, with 55 percent of #whiledriving posts coming from men, and 45 percent from women.

“Drivers should keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road, and their attention on driving,” said Doug Smith, Erie Insurance executive vice president of Sales & Products. “But, based on our analysis of the ‘while driving’ hashtag, many appear to be gazing off into the sunset, often times snapping and sharing photos.”

The behaviors show parallels with another ERIE study of police data that was just updated this month and found daydreaming to be the driving distraction most associated with fatal car crashes. (The original study was conducted in 2013 with similar findings). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 3,450 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2016 alone.

“The statistics about the dangers of distracted driving are alarming,” said Smith. “So while it’s understandable to want to share a picturesque sky with your social media followers, imagine if it were the last one. It’s just not worth it.”

The top 10 hashtags used in conjunction with #whiledriving were:

  1. Clouds                 
  2. Sunset 
  3. Sky                        
  4. Nature
  5. Sun                       
  6. Nofilter                               
  7. Landscape
  8. Car        
  9. Driving 
  10. Selfie    

The top U.S. states with the most posts using #whiledriving were:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. South Carolina
  5. New York
  6. Illinois
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Oregon
  9. Colorado
  10. Nevada

To arrive at its findings, ERIE reviewed 90 days of social media tracking data from the analytics firm Keyhole. The data collected were from iPhones, iPads and Androids that had their location services turned on.

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