More Than a Third of Adults Confess to Holiday Shopping While Driving

Distracted driving, speeding among holiday threats
A distracted driver on their cell phone

Blowing your budget may not be the biggest threat you face this holiday shopping season, but also steering clear of drivers who are ticking off items on their gift list while driving, according to a new survey.

When it comes to car safety, distracted driving is a major challenge. According to the National Safety Council, an organization dedicated to reducing preventable deaths, at least nine Americans die and 100 sustain injuries in distracted driving-related crashes each day.

Root Insurance, a mobile-powered insurance carrier, surveyed 2,012 adults of which 1,750 were drivers, and found that the holiday season brings its own set of temptations for easily-distracted drivers.

The ability to shop via a mobile device means consumers can take care of their holiday shopping lists from anywhere, and 76% said they shop on their mobile device, the study found. However, more than a third — 39% — have done some holiday shopping while they were driving, and that percentage is up 4% from 2018.

Men are more likely to engage in the dangerous behavior, with 49% admitting to shopping while driving during the holiday season compared with 30% of women.

So what specific behaviors are drivers engaging in? Of those who admitted to shopping while driving:

  • 46% said they’ve browsed a website looking for items
  • 45% said they have checked the status of an order
  • 40% said they have checked to see whether a product was available in store
  • 36% said they have used their mobile device to search for coupons or deals
  • 33% have completed a purchase via their mobile device

Holiday shopping inspires bad driving behavior

Distracted driving isn’t the only bad behavior among drivers that is likely to come up during the holiday season, the survey found. Some respondents admitted to speeding in order to get to the store before it closed for last-minute holiday shopping. Parents of young children were most likely to be guilty of this, with 17% of parents with kids under 18 saying they’ve broken the speed limit to get a last-minute gift compared with 5% of those without children.

Other holiday shopping-related complaints from drivers included crowded parking lots and road rage:

  • 74% of respondents said the worst part of the holiday season is looking for empty spaces in crowded parking lots
  • 26% said they’ve experienced road rage, such as offensive gestures and verbal insults while holiday shopping
  • 12% of male drivers and 8% of female drivers have gotten into an altercation with another driver over a parking spot during the holiday season

While you may think you’ll be able to get your shopping done faster by doing so from behind the wheel, you would be not only increasing your risk of death or injury, but you could do long-term damage to your finances. If you get a traffic ticket or cause an accident because you’re looking for a product on your phone, your auto insurance premiums could go up. Unfortunately, the holiday shopping season isn’t the only time to be concerned about distracted drivers. In fact, distracted driving is a year-around problem with some states more affected than others.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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