Annual survey reveals that many drivers engage in behaviors they know are risky

11 June 2020

AURORA, Ill., (June 11, 2020) – After three months of staying at home because of COVID-19, drivers are beginning to get back on the road.  AAA urges motorists to avoid falling back into the dangerous driving habits revealed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI).

“The pandemic has highlighted the extent to which individual decisions and behaviors can impact the health and safety of others,” said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We need to remember that we are all ‘in this together’ when it comes to safety on the road as well.”

The TSCI, which was conducted before the pandemic hit, shows a significant gap between what drivers consider dangerous and what they report doing themselves.  It found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive, drowsy and impaired driving as dangerous, yet many admit to engaging in at least one of these exact behaviors in the 30 days before the survey.

 

Behavior

Perceive as Dangerous

Have done in the last 30 days

Reading on a cell phone

94.3%

38.6%

Typing on a cell phone

96.2%

29.3%

Talking on a handheld cell phone

79.7%

43.2%

Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway

55.1%

42.8%

Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street

64%

41.5%

Driving through a red light

86%

31%

Driving while being so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open

96.1%

23.6%

Driving after drinking enough alcohol to be over the legal limit

94%

9.8%

Driving within an hour after using marijuana

68.7%

6.3%

Driving while using potentially impairing prescription drugs

88.4%

5.8%

 

AAA recommends these safety tips to keep everyone safe on the road:

  • Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb.
  • Slow down. Drivers tend to overestimate time saved by speeding. You’d have to travel 100 miles to save roughly 5 minutes, moving at 75 mph instead of 70 mph. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost.
  • Stay alert. Get adequate rest and stop driving if you become sleepy. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment, and vision, causing people who are very tired to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.
  • Drive sober.  If you consume marijuana, alcohol, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive.  And if you’re going to drive, then don’t consume these substances. If you are taking prescription medications, visit Roadwise Rx to learn if they can impair driving.
  • Watch for vulnerable road users. Biking and walking have soared in popularity this year, and it is the responsibility of every driver to watch and share the road safely with cyclists and pedestrians.

In addition to remembering these safety tips, AAA recommends that drivers make sure their vehicle is ready to roll by having it inspected at a AAA Car Care Plus or AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. 

The annual TSCI identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,714 licensed drivers ages 16 or older who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey, which was administered between Sept. 6 and Oct. 8, 2019. The AAA Foundation issued its first TSCI in 2008, and the latest report is online: AAAFoundation.org

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research develops educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

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