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Two-Thirds of US Drivers Break the Law Behind the Wheel

A fifth do it on a daily basis.

by on Sep.03, 2014

One in five drivers breaks traffic laws on a regular basis with speeding being the most common infraction.

It might seem like just a minor infraction, nudging the speedometer a few miles an hour over the limit. Or maybe you’ve hit the gas, instead of the brake, when the stoplight was about to turn red.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of American motorists routinely break the law while driving, about one in five doing so on a daily basis, according to a new survey. Two out of three motorists admit they’ve broken the law at one time or another.

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No surprise, perhaps, speeding is the most commonly broken law, but a significant number of those who participated in the survey by also admitted driving under the influence of alcohol.

“It can be all too easy to become a complacent driver after years of experience behind the wheel,” said the websites founder and CEO Nick Swan. “But the fact of the matter is that careless driving and not paying attention to the road could not only be endangering you, it could also be fatal for innocent individuals around you.”

Indeed, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver error is blamed for about 90% of all accidents, speeding being listed by the government agency as one of the three most deadly infractions.

The website surveyed 2,849 American motorists by e-mail, all over the age of 21, and all driving at least once a day. When asked if they “ever knowingly break the law” behind the wheel, a full 67% responded, “yes.” When asked what laws they had broken in the last month, the most common violations were:

  • Speeding, 63%;
  • Driving without a seatbelt, 51%;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, 21%;
  • Using a phone behind the wheel, 19%; and
  • Running a stop sign, 9%.

A full 77% of the respondents noted that they have seen another driver breaking the law within the last month.

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Some might think the numbers are actually low. It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t received some sort of moving violation at one point or another. But perhaps the more telling statistic is the fact that 21% of those surveyed admitted breaking one law or another behind the wheel every day, while 43% confessed to doing so at least once a week.

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If there’s a positive side to the survey, 82% of the respondents also said they drove more carefully when there are other passengers or children in their vehicle.

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“But the fact of the matter is that careless driving and not paying attention to the road could not only be endangering you, it could also be fatal for innocent individuals around you,” cautioned CEO Swan, including those in other vehicles.

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4 Responses to “Two-Thirds of US Drivers Break the Law Behind the Wheel”

  1. Jorge says:

    It appears to me that 99% of the people operating motor vehicles in the U.S. simply don’t care about the laws. They do whatever they feel like knowing full well they are violating law and often endangering themselves and other people. It’s like the Wild West in many areas of the U.S., IME.

  2. heyfred3000 says:

    Come ride with me in Italy, where in 12 summers I have never, ever, seen a driver who didn’t treat a stop sign like a “yield – if you have to”. And notice while we’re 5 or more MPH below the 82 mph speed limit in my old Citroën AX, most of the folks in the left lane are doing 100+ when they pass. And you’d better NOT make them brake by getting your slow butt in their way!

  3. “Break the Law Behind the Wheel” – let me ask, as a DRIVER can you break the law anywhere else but behind the wheel? That aside ;-) speeding is a violation most people do not see as such. That has to do with many speed signs not being perceived as entirely justified. Much less people will object to a “no alcohol for minors” sign than a speed sign. I used to live on a road that had a 50mph sign, then that was reduced to 40mph, later to 30mph, now it stands at 50mph again. No one could explain to me why – because the road has not changed at all (!) in those ten years. On the other hand I am missing “breaking the lights” in the list which is far more severe than running a stop sign and occurs quite frequently at night.

  4. Jorge says:

    Insanity seems to have taken control…