A recent study of over 6 million text messaging sessions reaffirms what traffic safety advocates have long espoused: drivers are definitely using their phones behind the wheel and they're doing it when traffic is at its peak.
Drivemode, a safe driving app, determined from its data that morning rush drivers prefer listening to music and news on the radio, but commuters traveling home in the evening are more prone to sending text messages.
In the study, the state most likely to message behind-the-wheel is New York, with an average of 8.21 messages per driver during peak rush hour commutes. Not far behind are Hawaii, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Washington, and Texas. California closed out the top 10 with a rate of 6.87 messages per driver, per peak message hour on average.
The survey also noted that most of the states listed in top 10 have a peak message hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., while others such as California and Massachusetts are more likely to text an hour earlier. This may indicate earlier commute times associated with flexible work hours in densely populated states.
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The most popular messaging apps being used by drivers are, predictably, pre-installed SMS apps, followed by Facebook, WhatsApp, and Textra. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion and is the most popular messaging app worldwide. Translation: Facebook controls the bulk of messaging usage by U.S. drivers. Drivemode's study included only Android users as the app is not available for Apple iPhones.