AAA: Risky driving persists despite cautions
WASHINGTON (Feb. 10, 2015) — Despite one in three drivers having a loved one who's been seriously injured or killed in a vehicle crash, motorists are still exhibiting bad driving habits, according to a new AAA Inc. study.
The AAA Foundation's latest Traffic Safety Culture Index indicates “too many Americans report that they regularly speed, run red lights, use distracting devices or drive drowsy.” The results further find that unsafe behaviors persist even though one in five drivers has been involved in a serious crash, and one in 10 has been seriously injured in a crash, according to AAA.
“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.”
The foundation's recent findings — assessing and benchmarking the attitudes and behaviors of drivers — “revealed that the prevalence of unsafe driving behaviors during the previous 30 days are widespread,” AAA said, including:
- Running red lights: 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 three 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.
AAA added that, when it comes to specific distracted driving behaviors in the past 30 days, the study also found:
- Two out of three drivers reported talking on their cell phone;
- One in three drivers reported talking on their cell phone often; and
- One in three drivers admited to reading a text message or email.
The findings also offered insight about drivers' attitudes related to cognitive distraction, according to the foundation. 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, AAA said, despite extensive research indicating 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,” Mr. Kissinger said.
“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 issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008. The 2014 report can be accessed online at its website.
AAA said the foundation is “dedicated to savings lives and reducing injuries on our roads,” and its mission is “to prevent crashes and save lives through education about traffic safety.” The foundation has funded more than 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.
AAA has more than 54 million members.
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