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Motorists want Safer Roads in 2012 and Admit They are Part of the Problem

By: AAA Release
By: AAA Release

 


Tampa, Fla. (Jan. 4, 2012) Americans now desire a greater level of safety than they currently experience on our roadways and are open to more government action to improve traffic safety, showed a recent national survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. However, many are unwilling to change potentially deadly driving behaviors and candidly admit they are part of the problem. The new year represents a great opportunity for all motorists to examine their driving habits and make a resolution to drive better in 2012 and beyond.


The Department of Transportation recently released updated fatality and injury data which states 32,885 lives were lost in automobile crashes in 2010—the fewest deaths on record than any time in the past 60 years.


“Even one death is unacceptable, especially to the more than 32,000 families who will never see their loved ones again,” says Michele Harris, director, AAA Traffic Safety Culture, The Auto Club Group. “While the latest data reveals our safest year since 1949, on average there is still one needless death every 16 minutes as a result of motor vehicle crashes. To reach zero deaths each driver must take responsibility for ensuring they actively choose to be safer drivers.”


For the fourth consecutive year, the AAA Foundation’s Traffic Safety Culture Index finds that most drivers (86 percent) view it as unacceptable to drive without wearing a safety belt, yet nearly one in four admit they have done so in the past 30 days. Additionally, a substantial number of drivers find it unacceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit on residential streets and admit to having done so in the past month. Such findings indicate that a false comfort exists among many drivers who believe ‘it’s the other guy behind the wheel’ yet admit to regularly engaging in potentially deadly behaviors like texting, driving while drunk or drowsy, excessive speeding, and red light running.


“This ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude that persists among drivers needs to change before we can experience a traffic safety culture where safe driving is the norm,” said Peter Kissinger, Traffic Safety President and CEO, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.


The following is a snapshot of the key findings from the 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index.


Drinking and driving



  • More than three in four drivers (76 percent) said people driving after drinking alcohol are a very serious threat to their personal safety and nearly all (97 percent) consider it to be unacceptable. However, more than 14 percent of drivers admit to driving when they thought their alcohol level was close to or possibly over the legal limit at least once in the past year, and of these, more than one in five (21 percent) have done so in the past month.


Cell phone use and texting



  • Distracted driving, specifically cell phone use and texting while driving, is widespread. Ninety-four percent of drivers consider texting while driving a serious threat; however, more than one-third of drivers (35 percent) admit to reading a text or email while driving in the past 30 days and more than a quarter of drivers (26 percent) admit to sending a text message while driving in the past month.

  • Additionally, more than two-thirds of drivers (68 percent) report talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month, and nearly one in three (31 percent) say they do so fairly often or regularly.


Speeding and Red Light Running



  • Speeding is widespread on highways and residential roads. Seventy-four percent of drivers consider it unacceptable for a driver to drive more than 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway, yet more than half of drivers (52 percent) admit to having done so in the past month.

  • Virtually all drivers (94 percent) consider it to be unacceptable for a driver to drive 15 mph over the speed limit on a residential street, yet more than one in four drivers (26 percent) admit to having done so within the past 30 days.

  • Nearly all drivers (94 percent) view it as unacceptable to drive through a traffic light that has already turned red if they could have stopped safely; however, more than one in three drivers (37 percent) admit doing this in the past month.


Drowsy driving



  • Most drivers view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior. Virtually all drivers (96 percent) consider it unacceptable for someone to drive when they are so sleepy they can hardly keep their eyes open; however, nearly one-third of drivers (32 percent) admit to having done so during the past month.


Safety Belts



  • Nearly one in four drivers (23 percent) admit that they have driven without wearing their safety belt in the past 30 days, and nearly one in five (19 percent) say they have done this more than once.


“The decrease in deaths on our nation’s roadways is great news, but we still have lots of work ahead of us. If every motorist takes charge of their own actions in 2012 by consciously deciding to drive safer, we are moving in the right direction,” concluded Harris.


The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.5 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and Tennessee; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.


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