Top 10 Driver Distractions – according to AA Insurance

> Download this press release

TXTing tops the list once again despite law change

Auckland, 30 October 2013 – Despite being illegal, texting while driving remains the number one distraction for drivers, according to the AA Insurance 2012-2013 Drivers Index survey.

The survey, which polled 1,000 regular Kiwi drivers aged 18 years and over, found that while 92% of respondents regarded texting as distracting, nearly two in 10 people still send text messages while driving.

The ban on texting and using a mobile phone without a hands-free kit came into force in November 2009, however this is the third consecutive year that respondents have rated texting as the top driver distraction, with younger drivers (18-34 years) most often flouting the law (35%). Women were also much more likely to text while driving (23%) than men (12%).

However, the survey found talking on a mobile phone without a hands-free kit had dropped from second to fourth most common distraction, since the 2011 survey. A total of 18% of drivers agreed that despite the law change, they still often use their mobile without a hands-free kit while driving, with a quarter of the Aucklanders surveyed saying they often talk illegally on their mobile phones.

“Drivers continue to risk their safety, and the safety of others, by using a mobile phone while driving,” said Suzanne Wolton, Head of Customer Relations, AA Insurance. “Every time you become distracted by checking or using your mobile phone while driving means you aren’t focused on the road, and this can result in serious or expensive consequences.”

In one recent example, a driver was texting his wife and let his car drift into a car parked on the side of the road. In a split second, he had caused several thousand dollars worth of damage to the parked vehicle as well as around $1,900 of damage to his own car.

Top 10 Driver Distractions* (Source: AA Insurance Driver Index survey 2012-2013):

  1. Texting on a mobile phone

  2. Reading a newspaper or magazine etc

  3. Personal grooming ie applying make-up, shaving

  4. Talking on a mobile phone WITHOUT a handsfree kit

  5. Changing the radio/iPod/MP3 player

  6. Using GPS or other navigation system

  7. Eating while driving

  8. Children in the car

  9. Talking on a mobile phone WITH a handsfree kit

  10. Tenth equal: Billboards /outdoor advertising & people outside the vehicle

Personal grooming was rated the third biggest distraction. Another AA Insurance claim involved a driver who bent down to find his sunglasses. When he looked back up he saw a car in front of him and jammed on the brakes, but it was too late. He hit the car in front, which in turn hit the car in front of them. The total cost of the claim was $23,900, however as the customer only had third party cover he had to pay around $3,000 for the repair to his own vehicle.

Number seven on the distraction list was eating while driving. One customer dropped the food he was eating onto his seat and looking down to retrieve it, he drove through a red light and collided with another vehicle turning right. The result was $3,500 damage to the other driver’s car, plus several thousand dollars worth to his own vehicle.

People who are outside the vehicle are also a common distraction, whether they are aware of it or not. One AA Insurance claim represents a common occurrence. The male driver was watching an attractive woman walk along the footpath. While distracted, he ended up hitting the car in front of him, resulting in a claim worth around $2,000.

While it’s fortunate that the majority of these claim examples were covered by insurance, it’s worth remembering that being distracted while driving can result in significant damage to property, or worse, significant injury. It’s therefore important to remain vigilant when behind the wheel.

“With greater numbers of vehicles on New Zealand’s roads, there are already plenty of distractions for drivers to cope with, so it pays to keep other distractions within the car to a minimum, and your mind on driving safely,” said Suzanne.

“Keep your mobile on silent, or activate an auto-reply to text messages while driving, so you’re not tempted to reply yourself. If you need to be contactable while driving, only use your mobile phone with a hands-free kit that you set up before driving off.

“By entering an address into a navigation system, deciding on your music, and finding your sunnies before you start driving, you can be sure your focus remains on the road.”

*To calculate the Top 10 Distractions, AA Insurance surveyed 1,000 regular drivers (who drive at least once a week) aged 18 years or over, and who own their car, to rate their level of distraction against a pre-defined selection of 12 distractions. The maximum margin of error on the total sample of n=1000 is 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

About AA Insurance

AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 930+ staff look after over 480,000 customers with 970,000 policies.

We proudly partner with Variety NZ and Eden Park and have been consistently recognised by: Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands (since 2011) and Quality Service Awards for Car, and Home and Contents Insurance (since 2015), Kantar Customer Leadership Index (since 2019), Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers (2011-2018), and the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015) that recognises New Zealand’s most successful companies. AA Insurance was also named Consumer NZ People’s Choice award winner for car, home and contents (2019 and 2020).

AA Insurance has an AA- (Very Strong) Insurer Financial Strength Rating given by Standard and Poor’s (Australia) Pty Ltd. For further information visit

For more information please contact:

Media Team, AA Insurance, 027 406 1787,

Media contacts

Customer enquiries

Call us on 0800 500 231 or contact us

Media enquiries

Mobile: 027 406 1787 Email:

Marketing and sponsorship enquiries