Study: Gen X drivers more likely to use phones while driving than younger drivers

August 29, 2018

The results of an online study released Tuesday contradict the popular stereotype that younger drivers are more likely to be distracted by their cellphones than older drivers. In every use case—from talking on the phone to checking social media—Generation X and millennial drivers showed a higher propensity to use their phones than the youngest drivers on the road.

More than 4 out of 5 Generation X and millennial drivers surveyed reported that they used a cellphone while driving, compared to 71 percent of Generation Z drivers who said they did the same.

The study also found that although 71 percent of drivers polled said they occasionally use their cellphones while driving, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they were "looking for ways to cut down on distractions."

MORE: Study: Texting while driving most common during evening rush hour

Of all the age groups surveyed, the Silent Generation—those born prior to the end of World War II—were the least likely to use a cellphone while driving.

The study hypothesizes that because younger drivers are more likely to feel anxious when there are distractions and are better about putting their phones down. Poll results indicated that 77 percent of Generation Z drivers feel anxious when they have too much to do, compared to just 59 percent for respondents overall. About a third of the respondents said that they will drive in silence to minimize distractions, while 13 percent indicated that they have "taken a digital detox" for at least a day.

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Generation Z drivers were born in the mid-1990s and are the youngest drivers on the road. The poll defined generation X as drivers born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. Millennials fill the gap with birth dates from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

One in three parents surveyed said they use their phones often while driving with their children. Disturbingly, parents of any generation were found to be the most likely to use phones while driving.

The study also found that Americans are more likely to think that other drivers around them are distracted.

The online study was conducted at the behest of Volvo by The Harris Poll and it included 2,035 respondents in the U.S., 1,665 of whom identified as drivers.

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