HAMILTON — Fifty-two percent of drivers said they feel less safe on the roads now than they did five years ago, according to the third-annual 2010 Traffic Safety Culture Index just released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The leading reason cited by American drivers was distracted driving, with 88 percent of motorists rating drivers who text and email as a very serious threat to their safety.
The study showed that the majority of drivers (62 percent) feel that talking on a cell phone is a very serious threat to safety, but they do not always behave accordingly or believe that others share these views. In fact, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed admitted to talking on their phones and 24 percent said they read or sent text messages or emails while driving in the previous month.
“As mobile technology continues evolving at a rapid pace and presenting drivers with hard-to-resist challenges to multi-task in their everyday time pressured-lives, it’s not surprising that more and more people are fearing and recognizing that distracted driving – texting, e-mails, phone calls and more – is a growing threat on the road,” said Tracy Noble, Manager of Public & Government Affairs. Unfortunately, this new data confirms the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ attitude that seems to be prevalent throughout much of the driving public and is one of the greatest obstacles to improving motorists’ safety on the roads.”
To help change the current culture of complacency, the AAA Foundation and AAA are holding their second annual Heads Up Driving Week: Try it for a week, do it for life, from September 26-October 3, to generate awareness of the safety risks of distracted driving and to encourage drivers to eliminate their distractions behind the wheel.
Motorists are encouraged to sign a pledge to drive distraction-free during Heads Up Driving Week with the goal to permanently reduce their distracted driving behaviors. “Our attitudes, and more importantly our driving behaviors, must change if we are going to stop crashes and fatalities caused by distracted driving,” commented Noble. To learn the facts about distracted driving, sign the pledge and/or view tips on how to eliminate distractions, visit www.AAAFoundation.org/headsup.
“Unlike the social stigma surrounding drinking and driving, driving while texting, emailing or talking on the phone are perceived to be acceptable behaviors by many motorists despite overwhelming scientific evidence of the serious crash risk these behaviors pose,” said Noble. “This year’s Traffic Safety Culture Index helps identify crucial disconnects between public perceptions and behaviors, an important step in helping the public understand the true risks of their actions.”
Traffic safety touches Americans’ lives with serious consequences. Half of survey respondents report having been involved in a serious crash, having had a friend or relative injured or killed in a crash, or both. In an effort to spark the dialogue about improving our safety culture and working toward the goal of zero deaths on our nation’s highways, the AAA Foundation launched its third-annual survey of the driving public on a wide variety of issues.
Following are highlights from the 2010 Traffic Safety Culture Index
Motorists rated distracted driving behaviors as some of the most serious threats to their safety, yet many admitted to distracted behaviors, such as talking on the cell phone or texting or e-mailing while driving:
o Nearly 90 percent identify texting or e-mailing while driving as a very serious threat and 80 percent would support a law banning it.
o Nine out of ten people personally consider texting or emailing while driving unacceptable and two thirds indicated that they would lose some respect for a friend who they saw engaging in those activities while driving;
However, nearly a quarter of all those surveyed said they had read or sent a text or e-mail while driving in the last month.
o Two-thirds report talking on a cell phone while driving as a very serious threat and nearly half would support a law banning use of any phone while driving;
However, nearly 70 percent of all those surveyed admitted talking on phone while driving in the past month.
“Motor vehicle crashes suddenly, prematurely and violently end the lives of tens of thousands Americans each year – killing more of our children, teens and young adults than any other single cause,” commented Noble. “Due to the physical, visual and mental distractions, using a phone while driving quadruples your risk of being in a crash. As a society, we can no longer allow driving distractions to kill.”
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