Distracted driving

Distracted driving alert: Elevated activity on Easter

April 5, 2023

According to a new analysis from Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), Easter Sunday has seen elevated levels of distracted driving every year since 2020. We analyzed the most prominent form of distracted driving — phone screen interaction, when drivers tap on the screen while driving — from 30 days before and after Easter from 2020 through 2022. 

On an average day around Easter, drivers interact with their phones for an average of 1 minute and 57 seconds of every driving hour. On Easter, however, drivers increase screen interaction to 2 minutes and 5 seconds per hour, a 6.9% rise.

This isn’t the full story, however. We also analyzed Easter’s performance compared to Sundays close to Easter. The average Sunday from March through May has a 2.65% higher rate of screen interaction than the average day, 2 minutes per hour. Despite higher levels of screen interaction on Sundays in early spring, Easter Sunday still sees 4.2% more screen interaction than other Sundays.

Every 10% increase in distracted driving increases the crash rate by 1.4%. The 6.9% increase in screen interaction on Easter raises the crash rate by .97%. NHTSA estimates that there were 14.2 million crashes and 36,096 fatalities on the roads in 2019, and that crashes cost the US economy $340 billion that year. USAFacts says there were 228 million licensed drivers in 2019. Based on these figures, we estimate that the elevated levels of screen interaction on Easter each year have resulted in over 290 additional crashes, 1 fatality, and cost the US economy over $7M. 

Other holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, have seen higher levels of distracted driving and fatalities compared to the average day. 

CMT’s research shows that 30% of crashes involve a driver holding their phone within 5 minutes of the crash.

The 6.9% increase in screen interaction on Easter is an average of behaviors across 2020 – 2022. In 2020, Easter saw an 11% increase over the average day. 2021 and 2022 were lower, 6% and 5% higher, respectively. 

To conduct this analysis, we used the CMT DriveWell Platform to extract sensor time series data points for screen interaction for over 26 million trips and millions of drivers from 2020 – 2022.

These findings show that drivers should be especially careful this Easter Sunday and pay attention to other vehicles for signs of distraction. And, as always, they should put down their phone and focus on driving.