WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, June 11, 2020) ––Drivers who have been in at least one crash in the past two years are significantly more likely to engage in risky behaviors like speeding or texting, even when they think the police may catch them. That’s according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. After three months of staying at home, AAA urges drivers to keep everyone safe on the roads and warns motorists against falling back into dangerous driving habits.
“The frequency of drivers in the United States engaging in improper behavior is too high. While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel – like texting, are dangerous, some do them anyway,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “We need to be aware of the serious consequences of engaging in these types of dangerous driving behaviors and change course.”
The Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI), which highlights the gap between drivers’ attitudes and their reported behaviors, found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive and impaired driving as dangerous.
“Yet many of them admit to engaging in at least one of these exact behaviors in the 30 days before the survey,” John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “The numbers were even higher for those involved in a recent crash.”
As to the bad and risky driving behaviors engaged in by crash-involved drivers, the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals:
This data shows that people are not altering their behavior even when it has resulted in a crash.
Of all dangerous driving tasks, drivers dubbed these two extremely or very dangerous:
Yet these same drivers text when behind the wheel, even believing there is a risk of getting caught by police for reading (43.7%) or typing (42.7%) a text message.
It’s not all bad news. When compared with 2018 findings, drivers reported they are engaging in some dangerous behaviors less frequently. Drivers who said talking on a hand-held cell phone saw the most significant decrease, down from 52.1% to 43.2%, while drowsy driving and texting both fell by 3 percentage points.
“The new AAA Foundation report shows drivers know that being distracted, tired, aggressive, or impaired is dangerous while behind the wheel, but up to 63% admit they’ve done it in the past 30 days,” says John B. Townsend II, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Repeated AAA surveys highlight the discordance between perceived danger and self-reported behaviors. Drivers need to slow down, stay alert, put the phone down, driver sober, and wear their seat belts, so that we can all make it to our destinations safely.”
“If you point to the dangerous driving behaviors of others that you sometimes do yourself, then you are the problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “I’m encouraged to see a slight shift toward safer driving behaviors, but we have more work to do. Stay focused on driving. This is a must.”
AAA recommends these safety tips to keep in mind.
The annual TSCI identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,714 licensed drivers ages 16 or older who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey, which was administered between Sept. 6 and Oct. 8, 2019. The AAA Foundation issued its first TSCI in 2008, and the latest report is online: AAAFoundation.org
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research develops educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.
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