• Aug 22nd 2013 at 10:30AM
  • 49
People who admitted to texting or emailing while drivin... People who admitted to texting or emailing while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent between 2009 to 2012 (Getty Images).
Americans are less likely to 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."



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  • 49 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      Article is an understatement ! The worst example I witnessed was a woman taking a left hand turn in the middle of a major 4 lane intersection - with a dog on her lap, lighting a cigarette with her left hand, her right hand on the steering wheel with a can of soda in it, as well, while talking on a cellphone that was being held with her head against her shoulder. I could have slapped the woman! Children were crossing the street from the school on the corner.
      Bill
      • 2 Years Ago
      Judging from some of the comments on various threads that I have read during the past few months, there seems to be a portion of the public who think that they are 'moving forward' and disdain many of the things that are important to experienced drivers. The article states that people seem to have become desensitized to drunk/drowsy/aggressive driving during the past 5 or so years. I don't have any hard numbers, but couldn't this be coincidental with a whole new generation of young and in experienced drivers? You know, the ones who don't think they need to follow the same rules as 'old people' follow.
      kz1952
      • 2 Years Ago
      They need to equip cars so the phones do not work when the vehicles are on and in any gear but park. Everyone wants to ack like its kids doing this but it is everyone. They get a call, they slow down, like that makes it safer or they hit there brakes????? It is blantantly obvious and it is almost everyone driving and on there phones, hand free also does not work. People have no respect for other drivers and don't know how to drive anymore. Thy don't stop when turning at a red like. They don't know how to drive when they come to a 4 way stop sign. EVERYONE needs to file law suits against the government for not paying attention and doing something abourt this! PUT THE PHONES DOWN AND DRIVE!!
      Harvey
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've been saying this for many years. They need to pull everyone over and make them take a courtesy test. That alone would eliminate about 1/2 the drivers. Most don't use their turn signals anyway and they would be totally unable to drive if they couldn't use that middle finger.
        normde
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Harvey
        Actually Harvey, most people DO use their turn signals, and no one has ever been hurt by a middle finger unless poked in the eye with one. Get your facts right.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @normde
          From what I see, most people don't use their turn signals and nearly all aggressive drivers fail to use turn signals, or stop at stop signs or obey the speed limit.
      Mr. Alan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Part of the problem is the gadgetry being packed into new vehicles. They are literally filled with distractions that divert the driver's attention away from what's most important: Driver awareness. Not that all of the recent additons are at fault. Voice activated Bluetooth technology for phone calls is very useful. But the rest of it is too much like eye candy; very nice to lookbut inherently dangerous when it shifts the driver's attention from the business of driving. Add to that the behavior of similarly distracted pedestrians, wandering the streets in in their iPod induced crouches, eyes on the screen, fingers flying, and earbuds effectively blocking out the world aroud them, and you have a recipe for disaster.
      • 2 Years Ago
      They did not ask me.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Families that have lost love ones themselves and supporters that want to help put up money to try and get new laws enforced, then of course us old tax paying people decide to put all the time into signing petitions out in front of stores and every were else the into voting for something...they are not go to follow anyway.... That's just the "AMERICAN WAY" ...kind of sad isn't ??? Funny Australia has more alcohol in there beer and spirits... But that have ....less problem with alcohol related driving deaths. People choose drink and drive,... to text and drive... Really it's sad most people that are sighted for a DUI...do it repeatedly... so do people that text.. people that don't want to wear seatbelts...choose to drive with their lights off when its raining... and the list goes on and on... They just like signing... saying they care...and then like I said before voting for something they have no intention of following anyway.
      storytellerjmc
      • 2 Years Ago
      My commute to work is 25 minutes. Almost every day, I see someone on the phone or texting. Most are driving below highway speed and/or failing to stay in their lane. Just a matter of time before they cause an accident; probably dragging another vehicle into their sphere of carelessness. The only cure will be their own long term hospitalization resulting from their arrogance.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Welcome to Florida, where everyone drives as if nothing they do affects anyone else on the road. Nobody uses turn signals, at red lights people sit 2 and 3 car-lengths behind the car in front of them with no regard for anyone behind them trying to get into the left-only lane, and when the light finally does turn green they sit there for a few seconds, look up at it, and ask themselves "Hmmmm, what would jesus do?", instead of actually going.
      • 2 Years Ago
      If an accident is caused because of emailing, texting and being indifferent to our driving laws, change the law and take their driving license, impound car, fine, driving school and desensitizing classes and/or anger management. A license to drive is a privilege -- won't obey our driving laws? Then you don't deserve to drive!
      Bryan Citrowkse
      • 2 Years Ago
      I bet if we replaced everyones air bag with a knife and removed all seat belts people might put the phone down.
      jl7503
      • 2 Years Ago
      Get rid of "slap on the wrist" penalties and put some real teeth in the punishments for driving drunk, aggressive driving, etc. I would think that loss of license for 6 months would be a good start for a first offense, and on the third offense, especially for the same offense, you could lose the license to drive for five years. AND you have no absolute right to drive! If your offenses were serious enough, and/or involved injury or loss of life there is nothing that says you have a right to EVER have a driving license again. The European and Scandinavian countries are serious about driving sanely and responsibly and we could do it too.
        Eric
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jl7503
        I agree, that penalties need to mean something. But I don't think your proposals go far enough. People who engage in the dangerous behaviors we all have witnessed are blantantly, selfishly and immorally putting others at risk of death or severe bodily injury. If someone was as reckless with a firearm we'd want them locked up for 5 years...I would anyway. I find it disturbing that we as a nation are currently involved in a very emotional debate over gun control yet more people are killed by aggressive/criminal driving that by firearms. But we're not having rallies,not making demands on leadership (via the ballot box).....and this on an issue unaffected by the Consititution. There is no "right" to drive and therefore we can control it without hesitation or concerns over civil or human rights. Yes, most European countries do deal with bad driving much more seriously, and we can...and should....as well. With freedom comes responsibility. Driving gives us a freedom the founders would never have dreamed of. It also gives us a responsibility they would have demanded be upheld though law enforcement and the justice system.
        Ryan Broten
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jl7503
        Well said!!! Part of the problem is that some people actually believe that driving is a right, when it is in reality a privilege. It NEVER has been a right. Not to mention that they ALWAYS think that it can't or won't happen to them. That somehow the one's who do get injured or killed simply didn't know what they were doing, and that somehow they do. I have a neighbor who had to quickly make a move to avoid a car that was being driven by a young female that wandered into her lane (it was a 4 lane highway and the driver was going the same direction, not coming at her). She noticed that the young woman was texting. She pulled over and called the police via her cell and gave them the offenders license plate number, car make and model, etc.. About an hour later, an officer called her back. He told her they ended up arresting the woman as she also was found to have 6 other offenses (of which he did not mention). He thanked her profusely for getting that woman off the road. You are right.....the punishment(s) NEED to be more severe......MUCH more severe!!!
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