Unsafe Drivers Engage In Multiple Risky Behaviors

Safety issues continue to claim more than 30,000 lives each year.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has released its 2012, fifth consecutive Traffic Safety Culture Index, a national survey of drivers regarding their safety attitudes and behaviors. The results from the latest issue show that Americans continue to value safe travel and generally support laws that would improve traffic safety, such as restrictions on speeding, substance use and distractions. It also revealed that many of the 3,896 surveyed drivers admitted to violating the safe driving behaviors they support.

Some of the findings show this contradiction in behavior and attitude:

  • Motorists who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors, especially speeding, driving when fatigued and not using seat belts.
  • About 69% of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the past month, despite the fact that 89% of respondents believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to safety.
  • Motorists who often or regularly use their cell phones also reported that they engaged in other risky behaviors:
    • 65% reported speeding.
    • 44% reported driving while drowsy.
    • 53% reported sending a text or email.
    • 29% drove without a seatbelt.
  • Drivers that reported they never use cell phones were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors:
    • 31% reported speeding.
    • 14% reported driving drowsy.
    • 3% reported sending a text or email.
    • 16% drove without a seatbelt.

In December 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its Traffic Analysis statistics for 2011, showing that traffic fatalities in the U.S. declined by nearly 2% from 2010, marking the lowest level since 1949. The Agency credits the high level of publicity and strong efforts to educate the public about the dangers of unsafe driving behaviors, as well as advances in vehicle technology, as the main factors in helping to reduce traffic-related deaths. But as NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said upon release of the new data, “Even as we celebrate the progress we’ve made in recent years, we must remain focused on addressing the safety issues that are continuing to claim more than 30,000 lives each year.”

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