Distracted driving tops driver’s list of growing dangers on the road, according to a new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, topping other risky behaviors like:
- Aggressive driving: 68 percent
- Drivers using drugs: 55 percent
- Drunk driving: 43 percent
The number of drivers who report using a cellphone behind the wheel jumped 30 percent since 2013. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. Despite their behavior, nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger. A recent study from the AAA Foundation shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.
The annual survey also shows an increase in the number of drivers who admit to speeding and running red lights, despite widespread social disapproval of both behaviors:
- Half of drivers (50.3%) reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (up from 45.6%) and 47.6% reported driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (up from 46.0%). There is greater social disapproval for speeding on a residential street than on freeways.
- Only 23.9% of drivers believe that driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway is completely or somewhat acceptable while only 14.0% of motorists deem driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street as acceptable.
- A large portion of drivers (42.7%) admitted to driving through a stoplight that has just turned red when they could have stopped safely in the past 30 days, despite most drivers (92.9%) viewing it as an unacceptable behavior.
“With more than 37,000 deaths on U.S. roads in 2016, we need to continue finding ways to limit driving distractions and improve traffic safety,” said Nick Jarmusz, Wisconsin director of public affairs for AAA. “The Foundation’s work offers insight on drivers’ attitudes toward traffic safety and their behaviors, so we can better understand the issue and identify potential countermeasures to reduce crashes.”