Buckle up: Survey reveals 27% of Americans are ‘zombie drivers’

NEW YORK — Zombie movies, TV shows, and comic books have become a big part of American pop culture in recent years, but who knew that the actual zombie apocalypse is happening on a highway near you? A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. drivers has revealed that more than a quarter of Americans are “zombie drivers.”

The survey, funded by Root Insurance, examined American drivers’ habits while on the road.

In all, 27% of respondents admitted to “zoning out” while driving, and 55% said they often feel like they are driving on autopilot. On average, drivers said they zone out about four times per week, and it happens more often during longer drives.

When asked why zombie driving occurs so often, 49% said it happens when they have a lot on their mind, 42% feel it occurs when they drive tired, and 40% tend to zone out while driving on familiar roads. Surprisingly, despite all of this absent minded driving, 90% of respondents said they consider themselves good drivers — yet 67% admit they could probably be a bit safer behind the wheel.

Americans seem to enjoy multitasking on the road as well; with 55% admitting to eating while driving, 51% reporting talking on the phone, and 36% checking their phones for notifications. A third have even changed music on their smartphones while behind the wheel.

Interestingly, when drivers are put in the passenger seat they seem to be a bit more cautious, with 49% of respondents saying they have at least one friend or family member that makes them feel unsafe as a passenger.

“Driving safety is about more than the driver,” comments Conor Day, Director of Product Management at Root Insurance, in a statement. “It’s about creating a safe environment for passengers, pedestrians and our communities, and as these results show, we are all aware of the impact of safe driving, even if we’re not behind the wheel.”

Perhaps most troubling of all: while 86% of drivers are confident they could pass another driving exam, only 63% knew what a “hill ahead” sign looked like, 61% were familiar with a “slippery when wet” image, and only 54% could identify a “HOV lane” sign.

All that knowledge could be for naught down the road when self-driving cars become the norm one day. And while that may be a reality in the future, just 18% of Americans think an autonomous vehicle would be a better driver than they are. Only time will tell.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.