Motorists Recognize Dangers but Do Little to Alter Behaviors says AAA Foundation
Too many Americans report that they regularly speed, run red lights, use distracting devices or drive drowsy, despite the fact that one in three have a loved one who has been seriously injured or killed in a crash, according to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index. The results further find that unsafe behaviors persist even though one in five drivers have themselves been involved in a serious crash, and one in ten has been seriously injured in a crash.
“It is very disappointing that we continue to see a prevailing attitude of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ where large numbers of motorists seem to recognize the risks of certain behaviors but do them anyway,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Enhancing the safety culture in society must begin with each individual.”
These most recent findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual survey that assesses and benchmarks the attitudes and behaviors of drivers revealed that the prevalence of unsafe driving behaviors during the previous 30 days are widespread, including:
Red light running: More than a third (36 percent) of drivers admit to running red lights, yet 55 percent say it is a very serious threat and 73 percent say it is completely unacceptable.
Speeding (10+ mph) on residential streets: Nearly half of drivers report speeding (44 percent), yet 65 percent say it is completely unacceptable.
Drowsy driving: About 3 in 10 drivers (29 percent) admitted to drowsy driving, yet 45 percent say it is a very serious threat and 81 percent say it is completely unacceptable.
Texting/emailing: More than a quarter (27 percent) of drivers report typing or sending a text or email, yet 79 percent of drivers say it is a very serious threat to safety and 84 percent say it is completely unacceptable.
When it comes to specific distracted driving behaviors in the past 30 days:
2 in 3 drivers reported talking on their cell phone
1 in 3 drivers reported talking on their cell phone often
1 in 3 drivers admit to reading a text message or email
The findings also offered insight about drivers’ attitudes related to cognitive distraction. Two out of three drivers believe hands-free phone use is acceptable, and nearly half (46 percent) of drivers who report using speech-based in-vehicle systems say they do not believe these systems are at all distracting. These results are prevalent despite extensive research indicating that hands-free devices can lead to cognitive distraction.
“Despite the growing body of research that offers evidence about the possible dangers of using hands-free technologies, most drivers don’t understand the risks and continue to use these technologies,” said Kissinger. “The good news is that we all have the ability to make safer choices, and can personally enhance our safety while driving.”
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008. The 2014 report is online at aaafoundation.org.
Established in AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to savings lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the internet at AAA.com.