Science

More than half of Americans are turning into ‘Zoom zombies’ when they get behind the wheel

Are you a ‘Zoom zombie?’: More than half of Americans who drive a vehicle shortly after video chatting report being distracted – and Gen Z is the most dangerous group, a survey finds

  • Approximately 54% of Americans turn into ‘Zoom zombies’ while driving
  • This group is said to video chat right before getting behind the wheel 
  • A survey of  1,819 Americans show using a phone is the biggest distraction
  • However, 65% of respondents identified as Generation Z 


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A new analysis reveals the coronavirus pandemic has created a group of potentially dangerous zombies – ‘Zoom zombies’ that is.

Approximately 54 percent of Americans who drive shortly after video chatting report problems concentrating on the road, according to the Root Insurance Distracted Driving Awareness Survey.

The biggest distraction is using a phone to multitask, with 65 percent of Generation Z respondents and 61 percent of millennials said they find themselves occupied with a device – it dropped to 48 percent among Generation X.

These Zoom zombies are suffering from the new phenomenon known as ‘Zoom fatigue,’ which is a term used to describe the exhaustion that comes with participating in video conferences.

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A new analysis reveals the coronavirus pandemic has created a group of potentially dangerous zombies – ‘Zoom zombies’ that is. Approximately 54 percent of Americans who drive shortly after video chatting report problems concentrating on the road

A new analysis reveals the coronavirus pandemic has created a group of potentially dangerous zombies – ‘Zoom zombies’ that is. Approximately 54 percent of Americans who drive shortly after video chatting report problems concentrating on the road 

Using such platforms requires an excessive amount of eye contact, a drop in mobility and a cognitive overload, which is now carrying over into the real world.

The coronavirus took hold of the world in 2020, which forced millions into lockdowns in a bid to limit the virus from spreading.

Many businesses closed their physical offices, which forced employees to setup a workspace in their home and conduct tasks using video conferencing platforms

And Zoom appeared to take the lead fairly fast – the firm said it saw 200 million daily meeting participants by March 2020.

The biggest distraction is using a phone to multitask, with 65 percent of Generation Z respondents and 61 percent of millennials said they find themselves occupied with a device – it dropped to 48 percent among Generation X

The biggest distraction is using a phone to multitask, with 65 percent of Generation Z respondents and 61 percent of millennials said they find themselves occupied with a device – it dropped to 48 percent among Generation X

The biggest distraction is using a phone to multitask, with 65 percent of Generation Z respondents and 61 percent of millennials said they find themselves occupied with a device – it dropped to 48 percent among Generation X 

Although it will be a year of lockdown for many worldwide, most people are still working from home and feeling the exhaustion that is turning them into potentially dangerous Zoom zombies on the road.

What causes ‘Zoom fatigue?’ 

1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense

2. Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing

3. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility

4. The cognitive load is much higher in video chats 

Alex Timm, Root Insurance founder and CEO, said: ‘COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way we interact with our vehicle.

‘As many abruptly shifted to a virtual environment, Americans’ reliance on technology dramatically increased along with their screen time, causing a majority of drivers to carry this distracted behavior into their vehicles.’

The survey, which was a collaboration with Wakefield Research, was conducted among 1,819 Americans across the US from March 12 through March 17, 2021.

All of the drivers, which were over the age of 18, were asked a series of questions through an online survey.

In all, nearly two-thirds of drivers (64%) report that they check their phones while driving.

This a two percent increase from 2020 and six percent jump from 2019.

However, the amount of time people check their device while driving has seen a starling spike.

The survey found that 53 percent check their phone within 15 minutes of getting behind the wheel – a seven percent increase from last year and a nine percent bump from 2019.

More alarming, many drivers are comfortable with this level of distraction. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of drivers believe they can be safe while using their mobile phone, up 6 percentage points from 2020 (24 percent). 


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