Gig-economy workers are four times as likely as other drivers to use smartphone apps regularly while driving, according to a new survey from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The study also found that parents are nearly 50 percent more likely to routinely make video calls, check weather reports and other types of smartphone-enabled distractions than drivers without children 18 or younger.

“The explosion of smartphone features and services has not only created new forms of driver distraction, but also a new group of rideshare and delivery drivers whose jobs require them to interact with their phones while they’re on the road,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

The organisation surveyed more than 2,000 drivers nationwide about what secondary tasks they perform while driving. Tasks were separated into ordinary activities and those that involved a mobile phone or another electronic device.

The survey showed that drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 were more likely to use smartphone apps while behind the wheel than drivers ages 35-49. However, it also showed that parents of children 18 and younger were 65 percent more likely than other drivers to perform non-device-based tasks, 31 percent more prone to any device-based distraction and 47 percent more likely to engage in smartphone-enabled secondary activities.

Gig-economy workers were also more than twice as likely as other drivers to engage in any distracting activity and nearly four times as likely to regularly use smartphone apps while driving. The smartphone-based activities they performed also went well beyond communicating with customers and navigating to pickup and delivery locations using the app provided by their employer.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that more than 3,000 people died in distraction-related crashes in 2020, accounting for eight percent of all traffic-related fatalities.