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Alternate titles for this story could have been "American drivers growing stupider," "Number of boneheads on the road increases," "Natural selection having greater influence on American drivers." We don't mean to make light of the latest study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, but it's so darn disturbing that we aren't really sure what else to do.

AAA compiled the results of three years of surveys, and found that Americans aren't nearly as concerned about seriously bad behaviors while driving as they were a few years ago. It's no wonder there was an estimated 5.3-percent increase in annual traffic fatalities last year. The infuriating thing is that we've gone seven years without an increase in fatalities.

In 2009, 90 percent of the AAA survey respondents thought drunk driving was a "serious threat." 71 percent were opposed to drowsy driving. 87 percent considered working a smartphone while behind the wheel to be a bad thing, while 21 percent admitted to texting while driving. 77 percent took issue with people that ran red lights.

Fast-forward to 2012, and we're going to see a rather radical shift in feelings. Only 69 percent of people find drinking and driving to be an issue, while 46 percent are opposed to drowsy driving. 81 percent think a smartphone and driving don't mix, while 26 percent have texted while behind the wheel. Also baffling, 70 percent of people are against running red lights, with over a third admitting to flying through a red in the past month. For those that don't feel like looking at the paragraph above for comparison, fewer people are concerned with bad behind-the-wheel behaviors.

Take a look below for the full press release on the AAA study, and please, please be safe behind the wheel.
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Americans Growing Less Concerned about Dangerous Driving Behaviors

Survey Results Come as Road Deaths Increase for First Time in Seven Years

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Americans are less likely to perceive a serious threat from dangerous driving behaviors such as drunk, aggressive or drowsy driving, according to an analysis of four years of public surveys conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The decreased concern is accompanied by an estimated 5.3 percent increase in annual traffic fatalities, totaling more than 34,000 in 2012. This is the first annual increase in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Motorists may be growing more complacent about potential safety risks behind the wheel," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "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."

Survey results during the previous four years show decreasing concern for dangerous driving behaviors:

The number of people who believe driving after drinking is a serious threat declined from a near universal 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012.
The number of people who consider drowsy driving a very serious threat declined from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.
The number of people who believe that texting or emailing while driving is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. The number of people who admit to texting while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent during the same period.
The number of people who consider red-light running to be completely unacceptable declined from 77 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2012. More than one-third (38 percent) 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."

Someone dies on America's roadways every 15 minutes. Fatalities include drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and every other kind of road user. Car crashes affect young people disproportionately by killing more people aged 5-34 than any other cause of death. More than 2.3 million people annually also suffer serious injuries from crashes.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed four years (2009-2012) of survey data collected for the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which tracks how the public's views and perceptions of traffic safety issues change over time. More than 11,000 surveys were administered to Americans aged 16 and up from 2009-2012 to determine the results.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation's mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.