Americans are less likely to see dangerous driving behaviors such as drunk, aggressive or drowsy driving as a threat to themselves or other drivers on the road, according to an analysis of four years of public surveys conducted by AAA.
The troubling decrease in concern about such activities comes alongside the first annual increase in traffic fatalities in seven years. Deaths were up an estimated 5.3 percent, totaling 34,080 in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Motorists may be growing more complacent about potential safety risks behind the wheel,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of AAA, in a press release. “A ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude remains common with many motorists consistently admitting to engaging in the same dangerous behaviors for which they would condemn other drivers.”
The survey showed that the percentage of people who believed driving after drinking was a serious danger declined a staggering amount: From 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012. Additionally, the number of people who considered drowsy driving to be a dangerous activity declined from 71 percent to 46 percent over the same time period.
Despite the wide-ranging efforts of safety organizations and big companies to highlight the danger of texting and emailing while driving, the number of people who actually considered it a dangerous activity declined from 87 percent to 81 percent. People who admitted to texting or emailing while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.
Finally, the survey showed that the number of people who found red-light running to be an unacceptable driving behavior decreased from 77 percent to 70 percent. Almost 40 percent of those surveyed admitted to running a red light within the previous month.
“We have made great strides in recent years to reduce road deaths, but there are still too many needless fatalities caused by dangerous driving,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “It is clear that more must be done to address the dangers of drunk, aggressive and drowsy driving to stem this concerning trend.”