The amount of distracted driving you face on the road depends on many factors. It depends when you drive – what season (summer is highest), month (July has the worst distraction), the day of the week (Wednesday and Thursday are the worst), and time of day (5:00 PM is the peak distraction hour).
It even depends on the actual day of the year (people drive the most distracted on Thanksgiving).
In our latest research, we drill into the most and least distracted cities in America. We analyzed the driving behavior of tens of thousands of drivers throughout 2018. We looked at the most prevalent form of distracted driving – texting and using apps. We categorized trips that started and finished in the same city. Cities needed to have a population of at least 50,000 to be included.
It also depends on where you live. Drivers in Mississippi are nearly two times more distracted than drivers in Alaska. Drivers in the south and midwest are more distracted than drivers in the west and northeast.
Before we get to the results, let’s review our methodology for measuring distracted driving.
Our analyses show the percentage of driving time spent distracted. In other words, if you have a distracted driving score of 50%, you would drive 30 minutes distracted in an hour.
Distracted driving inequality
Beyond the performance of the cities themselves, the most significant takeaway from this research is the inequality in distracted driving among cities.
Drivers in St. Louis, MO, the most distracted city in America, are 3.2X more distracted than drivers in Minneapolis, MN, the least distracted city.
Even the 10th most distracted city, Dallas, TX, is 1.5X more distracted than the 10th least distracted city, San Antonio, TX. Overall, the average level of distraction in the worst cities is 2X that of the best.
The 10 most distracted cities in America
St. Louis, MO is the worst city for distracted driving in America. St. Louis drivers spend 19.4% of driving time distracted – nearly 12 minutes of every hour.
Phoenix, AZ, is the second most distracted city in America, with a distraction rate of 18.6%. Of the 10 worst cities for distracted driving, five are in the south, three are in the west, and two are in the midwest. Two are in Texas.
Three of the most distracted cities come from states that have handheld bans – Atlanta, Chicago, and Paradise, NV. While Illinois and Nevada have had handheld bans in place for years, Georgia just enacted theirs in July 2018.
We’ve seen the level of distraction across Georgia drop 22% since the law went into effect.
|Rank||City||Driving time distracted|
|1||St. Louis, Missouri||19.4%|
|5||Fort Worth, Texas||15.9%|
|7||Raleigh, North Carolina||14.8%|
The 10 least distracted cities in America
Minneapolis, MN is the safest city for distracted driving in America. In 2018, drivers there only spent 6.1% of their time behind the wheel distracted – a bit over 4 minutes per day. Of course, this is still too high.
However, compared to St. Louis this is a massive improvement and points to what’s possible. Providence, RI comes in second, with 6.6% distraction.
The best cities for distracted driving are more dispersed than the worst cities. There are three in the northeast, three in the south, two in the midwest, and two in the west. Bigger states have more representation here as well – two cities from the list are in California and two are in Texas.
|Rank||City||Driving time distracted|
|2||Providence, Rhode Island||6.6%|
|6||San Diego, California||8.6%|
|8||Newark, New Jersey||9.1%|
|10||San Antonio, Texas||9.5%|
Disparities in Texas
What’s going on in Texas? Four cities from Texas are on our lists, the most of any state. Texas as a whole doesn’t have a handheld ban in place.
However, the two Texas cities in the least distracted list, Austin and San Antonio, have handheld bans. The two Texas cities in the most distracted list, Fort Worth and Dallas, don’t.