If you are concerned about distracted driving, you’re not alone. It’s a top concern for many drivers when it comes to dangers on the road.
In a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, 88-percent of drivers believe distracted driving is a serious threat and on the rise.
Respondents were more worried about distracted driving than other risky behaviors like aggressive driving, drivers using drugs and drunk driving:
- Aggressive driving: 68 percent
- Drivers using drugs: 55 percent
- Drunk driving: 43 percent
Cell Phone Use While Driving
As worried as drivers may be about distracted driving, many admit to driving distracted themselves.
Researchers say the number of people who admit to talking on a cell phone regularly while driving jumped 46 percent since 2013. Nearly half (49%) of respondents report talking recently on a hand-held phone while on the road. Thirty-five percent say they’ve sent an email or text.
More drivers are concerned with texting than they are talking.
Nearly 58 percent of drivers believe talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a serious threat to their personal safety. A higher 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger. Also, nearly half of respondents say they regularly see other drivers doing one or the other.
So just how dangerous is distracted driving?
The AAA Foundation says drivers using cell phones are up to four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.
“With more than 37,000 deaths on U.S. roads in 2016, we need to continue finding ways to limit driving distractions and improve traffic safety,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The Foundation’s work offers insight on drivers’ attitudes toward traffic safety and their behaviors, so we can better understand the issue and identify potential countermeasures to reduce crashes.”
How to Avoid Distractions
AAA gives these tips to avoid distractions:
- Never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
- Pre-program your GPS and adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls, and sound systems before driving.
- Properly secure children and pets and store loose possessions that could roll around in the car.
- Snack smart by avoiding messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
Comparing AAA Study To Federal Stats
AAA does note its study isn’t quite in line with federal estimates which show the number of distracted driving crashes has actually dropped two percent. Researchers believe that could be because distracted driving crashes are sometimes hard to detect and, therefore, may be underreported. According to government estimates, distraction plays a factor in just 14 percent of all crashes. However, past AAA Foundation research focused on teen drivers determined that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of crashes, 44 percent more than federal estimates.
About the AAA Study
The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index. The survey data are from a sample of 2,613 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.
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