AAA East Central

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest research finds 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. As the summer road trip season begins, and 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.

“There seems to be a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ culture with motorists in the United States,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “It’s alarming that even though drivers acknowledge the dangers of certain driving behaviors, they admit to doing them anyways. Unfortunately, it’s these bad choices that often lead to deadly crashes.”

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. The numbers were even higher for those involved in a recent crash:

• 50% of those involved in a recent crash admit to talking on a hand-held device while driving in the past month vs. 42% not involved in a crash

• 43% of those involved in a recent crash admit to texting while driving in the past month vs. 27% not involved in a crash

• 39% of those involved in a recent crash admit to running a red light in the past month vs. 30% not involved in a crash

Of all dangerous driving tasks, drivers dubbed these two extremely or very dangerous:

• Driving when so tired, it was hard to keep your eyes open (96%)

• Driving while typing or sending a text message or an email (96%)

Yet these same drivers say they 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.

On a more encouraging note, 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.

AAA recommends these safety tips to keep in mind.

• Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.

• Slow down. Drivers tend to overestimate time saved by speeding. You’d have to travel 100 miles to save roughly 5 minutes, moving at 75 mph instead of 70 mph. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost.

• Stay alert. Stop driving if you become sleepy because you could fall asleep at any time. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment, and vision, causing people who are very tired to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.

• Only drive sober. If you consume marijuana, alcohol, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive. And if you’re going to drive, then don’t consume these substances. If you are taking prescription medications, visit Roadwise Rx at http://www.roadwiserx.com/ to learn if they can impair driving.

• And always wear your seat belt.

About the study: 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©(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.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 78 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com . Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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