Almost no one behind the wheel is above the law these days, according to a new survey that shows 87% of drivers engaged in “risky behavior” behind the wheel in the last 30 days.
With all of the reports about texting while driving, eating during a commute and other distractions, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report isn’t all that surprising; however, it’s not limited to distracted driving. It includes impaired or drowsy driving, speeding, running red lights and not wearing seat belts.
As is often the case, the cause of an auto accident – and subsequent injuries or deaths – is often avoidable if the driver focuses on the task at hand.
“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” Kissinger said in a news release.
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“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. We’re asking every driver to make responsible decisions to make the roads safer for everyone.”
In fact, after more than a decade of steady declines, U.S. highway deaths rose by 9% in the first nine months of 2015, according to federal safety regulators.
Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are using the increase to promote the increased usage and possible mandate for safety technologies like forward collision avoidance systems.
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The AAA survey included data from a sample of 2,442 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who said they drove in the last 30 days, and among the results:
- 13% drove with an alcohol level possibly near or over the legal limit in the last year, and 9% did this more than once.
- 18% drove without a seat belt in the last 30 days (15% did so more than once).
- 39% ran a red light when they could have stopped safely in the last 30 days (26% did so more than once).
- 32% drove when they had a hard time keeping their eyes open because the were so tired in the last 30 days (22% more than once).
- 48% went 15 miles per hour over the speed limit in the last month (15% do so regularly), and 45% went 10 over in the last month.
- 70% talked on a cellphone while driving in the last 30 days (31% regularly).
- 42% read a text message or email while driving in the last 30 days (12% regularly).
- 32% typed or sent texts in the last month (8% regularly).
The results show that reducing accidents requires more than an increase in mandated technology, and may support the efforts of some organizations to ban behaviors such as talking on the phone while driving – even hands-free calls – and texting.
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In fact, automakers are teaming with federal regulators to make it easier for the industry to develop, test and eventually bring to market a new generation of semi- and fully autonomous vehicles. The ultimate goal is to sharply reduce the number of deaths on U.S. highways.