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February 25, 2016
87 Percent of Drivers Engage in Unsafe Behaviors While Behind the Wheel

New AAA Foundation Research Finds Most Drivers Overestimate How Carefully They Drive
 

MADISON, Wisc. (Feb. 25, 2016) – About 87 percent of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the past month, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These unsafe behaviors include driving while distracted, impaired, drowsy, speeding, running red lights or not wearing a seat belt. The disturbing results come as 556 fatalities occurred on Wisconsin roads in 2015, a 13 percent increase that preliminary federal estimates indicate is part of a national trend.
 
“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, though most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel. We’re asking every driver to make responsible decisions to make the roads safer for everyone.”
 
The report finds that 1 in 3 drivers have had a friend or relative seriously injured or killed in a crash, and 1 in 5 have been involved in a crash that was serious enough for someone to go to the hospital. Common unsafe behaviors include:          
 
Distracted Driving
 

  • More than 2 in 3 drivers (70 percent) report talking on a cell phone while driving within the past 30 days. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (31 percent) report doing this fairly often or regularly.
  • More than 2 in 5 drivers (42 percent) admit to reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days, while 12 percent report doing this fairly often or regularly. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) admit to typing or sending a text or email over the past month, while eight percent say they do so fairly often or regularly.
  • Over 80 percent of drivers view distracted driving as a bigger problem than three years ago.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that distracted driving is a factor in at least 3,000 deaths per year, though the actual number is likely much higher. Drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds can double their risk of being in a crash.
 
Speeding
 
  • Nearly half of all drivers (48 percent) report going 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway in the past month, while 15 percent admit doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • About 45 percent of drivers report going 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street in the past 30 days, and 11 percent admit doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that speed plays a factor in nearly 10,000 deaths per year. Drivers are more likely to be seriously injured or killed at higher speeds, and speeding increases the risk of being in a crash because there is less time and distance available to respond.
 
Drowsy Driving
 
  • Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) say they have driven when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open in the past 30 days. More than 1 in 5 (22 percent) admitted doing this more than once during that time.
  • Previous research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.
 
Red-light Running
 
  • More than 1 in 3 drivers (39 percent) admit to having driven through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely during the past 30 days. About 1 in 4 drivers (26 percent) reported doing this more than once during that time.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that 697 people were killed and 127,000 were injured in crashes that involved red-light running in 2013.
 
Seat Belt Use
 
  • Nearly 1 in 5 drivers (18 percent) report driving without a seat belt within the past 30 days, and more than 1 in 7 (15 percent) admit to doing this more than once.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that nearly half of all vehicle occupants who died in a crash in 2013 were unrestrained at the time of the crash. Seat belts can reduce the risk of fatal injury by more than 45 percent.
 
Impaired Driving
 
  • More than 1 in 8 motorists (13 percent) report driving when their alcohol level might have been near or over the legal limit within the past 12 months. About nine percent of drivers report doing this more than once over the past year.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that there are nearly 10,000 deaths a year from crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher, and impaired-driving crashes cost the country more than $50 billion per year.
 
“Traffic crashes are not inevitable.  We all have the ability to make driving safer for everyone”, said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “By staying focused, sober and patient while behind the wheel, each of us has the power to reduce the number of needless deaths and injuries on our roadways every year.”
 
The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,442 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org .
 
About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established by 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 saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.
 

Contact(s):

Nick Jarmusz
phone: 608-828-2495
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

About Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation
Established by AAA – The Auto Club Group in 2010, Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation, Inc. (ACGTSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and public charity dedicated to producing a significant and continuous reduction in traffic crashes, injuries and deaths in the communities targeted by its efforts. ACGTSF provides programs, education and outreach to increase public awareness about the importance of traffic safety and improve driving behavior. ACGTSF is funded by voluntary, tax-deductible contributions from organizations and individuals who support ACGTSF’s purpose.


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