Majority of U.S. Drivers Continue to Engage in Risky Behaviors While Behind the Wheel, Study Says

Majority of U.S. Drivers Continue to Engage in Risky Behaviors While Behind the Wheel, Study Says


Nowadays, there is no shortage of dangerous behaviors that drivers engage in while behind the wheel. Using a cell phone is one of the most common types of risky driving behavior in recent years, becoming the leading cause of driver distraction. Even though there are strong efforts to curb distracted driving by the U.S. government, in addition to state authorities and non-governmental associations, the problem is clearly not going away.

Talking on a cell phone is just one of the several risky driving behaviors noted in a new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The Foundation has released its latest annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which highlights how little regard drivers have for overall road safety.

Nearly 90 Percent of Drivers Engaging in Unsafe Behaviors

The Foundation surveyed 2,442 drivers aged 16 or older who had driven at least on one occasion in the past 30 days. Researchers wanted to gauge drivers’ opinion on road safety and find out what attitude they have towards specific driving habits. The most important takeaway is that a whopping 87% of respondents said that they have engaged in at least one unsafe behavior in the past month.

The survey asked drivers to report how often they have engaged in one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Drowsy driving
  • Red-light running
  • Impaired driving
  • Not wearing a seatbelt

Distracted Driving Most Concerning Issue

With 70% of respondents admitting to talking on the phone while driving, this is the single most common dangerous behavior reported by drivers in this survey. When it comes to texting, it’s an activity that 42% of drivers engage in. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that distracted driving is a problem that still persists, and it remains to be a serious threat to road safety, given that it’s one of the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes.

What’s interesting is the finding that most drivers are in favor of distracted driving laws, with 88% of respondents saying that they agree with laws prohibiting texting and driving.

The numbers are not any more encouraging when it comes to the other unsafe behaviors. The Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 48% of drivers exceed the speed limit on a freeway by 15 mph, despite the fact that 74% of respondents admit that it is a dangerous practice.

Red-light running is the next most common unsafe behavior, with 39% of the respondents admitting to have done it at least once in the past 30 days, followed by drowsy driving (32%) and impaired driving (13%).

“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, though most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel.”

By all means, the findings from this study are astonishing. They show that drivers are well aware of the risks involved in behaviors like speeding, talking on the phone or running a red light, but they still do it. With such a high percentage of drivers admitting to engaging in unsafe behaviors while behind the wheel, it’s clear that to improve road safety in America, motorists need to change their driving habits and their attitude towards driver and passenger safety.

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