Drivers Know They’re Being Dangerous – But They Won’t Stop

Drivers Know They’re Being Dangerous – But They Won’t StopThe Traffic Safety Culture Index is an annual publication that provides valuable insights into the attitudes and behaviors of American drivers toward traffic safety. The report, which is produced by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, surveys a representative sample of US drivers on a variety of topics related to driving behavior, including distracted driving, speeding, and impaired driving. The results of the survey are then compiled into a comprehensive report that sheds light on the state of traffic safety culture in the United States.

The 2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index is particularly significant, as it comes at a time when the country is facing a range of challenges related to road safety. Despite advances in vehicle technology and road infrastructure, the number of traffic fatalities in the United States (including Missouri and Kansas)has been on the rise. This has prompted renewed attention to issues such as distracted driving, impaired driving, and speeding, which are major contributing factors to crashes on American roads. The report provides a timely opportunity to examine the attitudes and behaviors of our nation’s drivers and to identify areas where more work is needed to improve road safety for everyone.

What drivers say versus what they do

For their data, researchers surveyed 2,657 active licensed drivers ages 16 or older and who drove at least once in the past 30 days before the survey. They found what drivers believe versus what they actually do is quite different. To wit:

Distracted Driving Over 90% of drivers believe distracted driving is “very” or “extremely” dangerous. Yet, about a quarter of drivers reported sending a text or email while driving. Over 35% reported reading a text or talking on the phone while driving.
Aggressive Driving 63% of drivers believe police would pull them over for driving 15mph over the speed limit. Over 50% of drivers reported engaging in speeding and aggressive driving.
Drowsy Driving Over 95% of drivers believe drowsy driving is dangerous and that their loved ones disapprove of the behavior. About 19% of drivers report engaging in drowsy driving.
Impaired Driving “Approximately 94% of drivers believe driving after drinking enough alcohol (to the point one considers they might be over the legal limit) is very or extremely dangerous.” Only 7% of respondents reported driving while under the influence of alcohol. However, “only 65% of drivers felt driving (within an hour) of using marijuana to be very or extremely dangerous.”

Why this disconnect?

If drivers know that a particular driving behavior is unsafe, why do they continue to do it? With teens, at least, we may know why. Researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) program interviewed 109,266 teens at 281 schools in 11 states. They found that while younger drivers can recognize the risk of certain dangers, they often feel that they are immune to that risk.

Lisa Minjares-Kyle of TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program says, “The part of the brain responsible for higher-level decision-making isn’t fully developed until age 25, so knowing something is dangerous isn’t enough. While novice drivers can recognize risk, they may feel immune to it or that they’re more than capable of handling it.”

Per TTI:

One area of improvement, Minjares-Kyle says, is expanding the topics addressed by public outreach campaigns beyond drinking and driving. Speeding, nighttime driving, and passenger distraction all cause more crashes for young drivers than alcohol impairment, but drunk driving gets some of the largest public service-campaign funding. Providing additional support for programs and campaigns that address other dangerous behaviors is one path to effecting positive outcomes.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

One public outreach campaign is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, observed in April of each year to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving and encourage safe driving practices. The month-long campaign is organized by various organizations, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to raise awareness about the risks associated with distracted driving and to promote safe driving behaviors. The campaign aims to educate drivers, passengers, and pedestrians about the dangers of distracted driving and to encourage them to take action to prevent it.

Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents, and the number of accidents caused by distracted driving is on the rise. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2020 alone. It is important to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and to take steps to prevent it. During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, organizations and individuals across the country work together to raise awareness, share resources and strategies for preventing distracted driving, and encourage safe driving practices on the roads. By working together, we can make our roads safer and reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.

How can I be a safer and more responsible driver?

You can also help cut down on car accidents by driving defensively and responsibly:

  • Avoid distracted driving. Keep your eyes and attention on the road at all times. Avoid using your phone, eating, or engaging in any other distracting activity while driving.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Always wear your seatbelt and ensure that all passengers in your car are wearing theirs. Seatbelts save lives and can prevent serious injuries in the event of an accident.
  • Follow the speed limit. Speeding is a major cause of accidents. Follow posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to road and weather conditions.
  • Maintain a safe following distance. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This will give you enough time to react if the vehicle in front of you suddenly stops.
  • Stay focused on the road. Avoid any activity that takes your attention away from driving, such as texting, eating, or adjusting vehicle controls. If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over to a safe location and do so.
  • Avoid driving under the influence. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your judgment and reaction time.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Always check your blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn.

By following these tips, you can help to reduce the risk of accidents and keep yourself and others safe on the road. Remember, safe driving is everyone’s responsibility.

If you or a loved one were injured in a car or truck accident, the lawyers at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys are here to help. To learn more about how we can protect your right to compensation for your injuries and losses, call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment in Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, St. Joseph and Parkville, MO, as well as Overland Park, Kansas City and Olathe, KS.