According to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over half of all surveyed drivers admitted to having texted behind the wheel, run a red light or driven faster than the speed limit in the last 30 days. Younger drivers tended to be the worst offenders, with 88 percent of drivers aged 19 to 24 admitting to these behaviors. This does not mean that mature drivers were immune; even drivers as old as 75 admitted to some of these behaviors.
This is problematic because fatal car accidents are becoming more common. In 2015, U.S. traffic deaths jumped by 7 percent, the largest such single-year increase since the 1960s. This is despite increased awareness of unsafe driving behaviors. And yet, though most of the drivers surveyed believed that texting while driving, speeding, running red lights and a variety of other unsafe behaviors are a serious risk to their lives, many of the drivers reported that they still did these things – some recently, some often.
Public Opinion on Distracted Driving
More than three-quarters of the surveyed drivers said that texting while driving was unacceptable; yet, 31 percent of them admitted to doing it in the last 30 days. Eight percent said they do it often. Some 96 percent of drivers said that drowsy driving was very unsafe, but 29 percent had done it recently.
This is a serious public health and personal safety issue. We will be revisiting the topic of distracted driving in a series over the course of March.