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Identifying the disconnect between driver attitudes and behaviors

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Car Accidents

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is committed to improving Americans’ driving skills and behaviors in an effort to reduce car crashes. The organization’s most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index shows most drivers believe impaired, distracted, drowsy and aggressive driving is dangerous.

However, their actions on the highway contradict their responses. For instance, while a majority note that talking on a handheld cellphone while driving is a serious risk, a large number admits to having done so regularly. The survey points out disparate results in four categories:

Distracted driving

  • Most drivers consider talking (79.7%), reading (94.3%) and typing (96.2%) on a handheld smartphone while driving to be extremely dangerous
  • Despite the risk, up to 43.2% of those surveyed said they had done one or more of those actions in the past month

Aggressive driving

  • 64% of drivers involved in the research said speeding on a residential street is hazardous, and 55.1% said driving faster than the posted speed limit on a freeway is dangerous
  • While nearly two-thirds of respondents said it’s likely they would be pulled over for going 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway, 48.2% said they had done so in the past 30 days

Drowsy driving

  • While 96% say drowsy driving is very dangerous, less than a third believe there’s a risk of being caught by police
  • Despite 97% disapproving of driving while being extremely tired, nearly 24% said they had been behind the wheel while having trouble keeping their eyes open

Impaired driving

  • Nearly all drivers surveyed (94%) view driving while intoxicated as especially dangerous, but 10% said they had done so in the previous 30 days
  • Almost 70% said driving within an hour of smoking marijuana is risky, and 91% socially disapprove of driving while high
  • While 88.3% believe drivers taking potentially impairing prescription drugs are a danger to themselves and others, only 47% think police would catch them

AAA reports one of the key, and disturbing, findings is that drivers who had been involved in at least one crash in the past two years were more likely to commit dangerous actions that put everyone at risk.


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