Has COVID-19 impacted our driving behaviors?

With lockdowns, quarantines and physical distancing, it’s no surprise that Americans have moved around less during the pandemic — including behind the wheel. But have these unthinkable times affected more than just miles traveled?

So, to get a better sense of how COVID-19 has impacted Americans behind the wheel, we took a look at U.S. driving behaviors in pandemic times and compared them to behaviors in the pre-pandemic world.

What did we find out? It turns out that while Americans drove less during the pandemic, they engaged in more unsafe driving behaviors — including more collisions and speeding, and generally being more distracted behind the wheel.

In the months most impacted by the pandemic (March-December 2020), we found that…

  • The Road Less Traveled. With social distancing measures, business closures and a shift to working and learning from home for many, members in the U.S. drove 16 percent less during the pandemic, per active user.

  • Collisions Counted. Life360 noted 10 percent more car collisions during the pandemic, per miles driven than the previous year. Collisions are detected via Crash Detection*, a Life360 driver safety feature that recognizes when a user is driving more than 25 miles per hour and has been in an accident, either as a driver or passenger.

  • Ever More Emergencies. Going hand-in-hand with more collisions, the average monthly dispatch of emergency vehicles increased by 8 percent during the pandemic. This was generated via the app’s Crash Detection feature, which dispatches emergency responders to the exact location of an accident when help is needed.

  • Surge in Speeding. Speeding events, which is defined as accelerating beyond 80 miles per hour, increased by 12 percent during the pandemic. 
  • Distracted While Driving. Distracted driving, quantified by how often members use their phone while driving, increased by 9 percent during the pandemic.

It’s clear that Americans have engaged in more dangerous driving behaviors during the pandemic. As we approach the New Year and gradually begin moving around more, Life360 remains committed to providing tools that keep families safe everywhere — including on the road.

Who’s ready for 2021?

**Crash Detection is enabled when: the vehicle is moving at a sustained speed of at least 25 mph for at least 30 seconds before the collision; the vehicle has come to a complete stop after the collision; user’s phone has more than 20% battery life and not be in power saving mode; the phone’s WiFi settings are turned on; and you are in an area with strong cell phone reception (e.g. Crash Detection does not work in a tunnel). If you’re on a CDMA carrier (including Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular), cell data doesn’t always work if you are on a phone call. If you’re on a phone call at the time of a car crash, it might not be detected. Even if all the criteria mentioned are met, Life360 may not detect all major collisions due to network outages, algorithm error, availability of GPS location data, sensor error on the mobile device, and crash location outside of a wireless service coverage area among others.

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