AAA: Annual Traffic Safety Survey Shows Risky Driving on the Rise
MADISON, Wisc. (Mar. 29, 2018) ? Distracted driving tops driver’s list of growing dangers on the road, according to a new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, topping other risky behaviors like:
- Aggressive driving: 68 percent
- Drivers using drugs: 55 percent
- Drunk driving: 43 percent
The number of drivers who report using a cellphone behind the wheel jumped 30 percent since 2013. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. Despite their behavior, nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger. A recent study from the AAA Foundation shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.
The annual survey also shows an increase in the number of drivers who admit to speeding and running red lights, despite widespread social disapproval of both behaviors:
- Half of drivers (50.3%) reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (up from 45.6%) and 47.6% reported driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (up from 46.0%). There is greater social disapproval for speeding on a residential street than on freeways.
- Only 23.9% of drivers believe that driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway is completely or somewhat acceptable while only 14.0% of motorists deem driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street as acceptable.
- A large portion of drivers (42.7%) admitted to driving through a stoplight that has just turned red when they could have stopped safely in the past 30 days, despite most drivers (92.9%) viewing it as an unacceptable behavior.
“With more than 37,000 deaths on U.S. roads in 2016, we need to continue finding ways to limit driving distractions and improve traffic safety,” said Nick Jarmusz, Wisconsin director of public affairs for AAA. “The Foundation’s work offers insight on drivers’ attitudes toward traffic safety and their behaviors, so we can better understand the issue and identify potential countermeasures to reduce crashes.”
Drivers in the AAA survey believe the problem of distracted driving has increased over the past three years, with nearly 50 percent reporting that they regularly see drivers emailing or texting while driving. Counterintuitively, federal estimates show the number of distracted driving crashes has actually dropped two percent. This may be due to the fact that it is difficult to detect distraction following a crash which makes distracted driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues. According to government estimates, distraction plays a factor in just 14 percent of all crashes. However, past AAA Foundation research looking into teen drivers (one of the most vulnerable driving populations), used in-vehicle dash-cam videos to determine that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of crashes, 44 percent more than federal estimates.
Any level of risk is too high when it comes to safe driving. Tasks that require a driver to take their eyes or attention off the road should be avoided while the vehicle is in motion- including the use of cellphones, infotainment systems, or navigation systems. AAA urges drivers to act responsibly when behind the wheel. In order to avoid distractions, drivers should:
- Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
- Pre-program your GPS and adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before driving.
- Properly secure children and pets and store loose possessions and other items that could roll around in the car.
- Snack smart by avoiding messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,613 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.
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.
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.5 million members across eleven 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 more than 58 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.