Nearly 9 in 10 Drivers Engage in Dangerous Behavior

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Nearly 9 in 10 drivers on American roads engage in dangerous behavior at some time, a survey by the American Automobile Association finds. (Wikimedia photo/Smallman)

Nearly 9 in 10 drivers engage in dangerous behavior at times behind the wheel, according to a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association.

The triple AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the results of a study that reported within the prior month, 87 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to engaging in at least one type of dangerous behavior. The types of dangers the 2,545 licensed drivers over age 16 surveyed reported doing while driving included speeding, intoxication, being drowsy, talking on a cell phone or texting, running red lights or not wearing seat-belts.

38,300 Deaths in 2015

The AAA calls the results of the study disturbing because almost 33,000 people died and more than 4 million were seriously injured on American roads in 2014. And in 2015, traffic fatalities rose by more than they had in the previous 50 years, to about 38,300, the National Safety Council reported.

Officials Express Alarm

Officials of both the National Safety Council and AAA have expressed alarm over the situation of careless driving.

“These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements. Engage your defensive driving skills and stay alert so we can reverse this trend in 2016.”

Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said: “There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety. 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.”

Chilling Statistics

Tragically, the AAA report said 1 in 3 drivers in the survey had a relative or friend who was killed or seriously injured in an automobile crash. Also, 1 in 5 of the respondents had been in car crashes that were serious enough to send someone to the hospital.

The most common type of dangerous behavior engaged in while driving was a distraction such as reading a text or talking on a cell phone. AAA reports 70 percent of drivers said they talked on a cell phone while driving in the 30 days before the study. About 31 percent reported doing it fairly often or regularly.

Forty-two percent of drivers in the survey admitted to reading an e-mail or text message, and 12 percent said they did so fairly often. Another 32 percent admitted they typed or sent an e-mail or text message, with 8 percent doing so fairly often or regularly.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates distracted driving is a factor in at least 3,000 traffic fatalities per year on U.S. roads.

Speeding: A Big Factor

Another big factor in crashes is speeding, which has a role in about 10,000 traffic fatalities a year. Almost half the drivers, 48 percent, said they drove 15 mph above the speed limit on a freeway in the 30 days before the survey was conducted. Fifteen percent of them reported doing it fairly often or regularly. And 45 percent reported going 10 mph above the speed limit on a residential road; 11 percent said they do this fairly often or regularly.

The AAA press release says drivers are more likely to be killed or injured if they’re speeding, and accidents are more likely because speeding drivers have less time and distance to respond to dangers developing in their path.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is another big problem and a factor in 109,000 crashes with injuries and about 6,400 fatal accidents in the United States every year. “Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) say they have driven when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open in the past 30 days. More than 1 in 5 (22 percent) admitted doing this more than once during that time,” AAA says.

Thirty-nine percent of drivers reported not stopping at red lights that had just changed when they would have been able to stop safely. One in 4 drivers reported doing this more than once in the previous 30 days. The NHTSA estimates nearly 700 people were killed and about 127,000 injured in crashes when people ran red lights in 2013.

Just 18 percent of drivers reported not wearing a seat-belt, but this danger is a huge factor in fatalities. The NHTSA has estimated nearly half of vehicle occupants who died in 2013 crashes were unrestrained. AAA says seat-belt use can reduce the risk of fatal injury by about 45 percent.

Impaired Driving

Impaired driving was admitted to by just 13 percent of the study’s respondents. While few people drink or take drugs and drive, impaired driving is a factor in about 10,000 fatal accidents a year involving drivers with blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or above, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found. Impaired driving costs the U.S. economy about $50 billion year.

Krasney Law Helps Accident Aictims

All of the behaviors described above are illegal while driving in California and are grounds for a finding of negligence if someone is injured in a crash. If you or your child has been injured in an accident that happened because of someone else’s negligent and dangerous driving, the auto accident attorneys of Krasney Law in Santa Barbara, who serve all of California, would like an opportunity to speak with you.

We will evaluate your case and advise if you are a good candidate to bring a lawsuit, discuss California law with respect to your accident, and we can also advise you on how to proceed with an insurance company.

Contact your Inland Empire auto-accident attorneys at Krasney Law, (909) 380-7200. We will charge you nothing for an initial consultation, and we may arrange payment on a contingency basis. That is, we don’t get paid unless you accept a settlement or we go to trial.

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