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Going in Reverse: Dangerous Driving Behaviors Rise

Written by Andrew Gross, AAA
Published
Dec. 8, 2022

A new report finds unsafe driving behaviors, including speeding, red-light running, drowsy driving and driving impaired on cannabis or alcohol, rose from 2020 to 2021.

The most alarming increase was among drivers admitting to getting behind the wheel after drinking enough that they felt they were over the legal limit---an increase of nearly 24%.

According to new survey data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, this is a reversal in the steady declines in these dangerous driving behaviors in the three years from 2018 through 2020.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, traffic fatalities have risen. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020.

According to NHTSA, dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, alcohol impairment and non-use of seatbelts account for a considerable proportion of the increased fatalities. Accordingly, AAA urges drivers to keep everyone safe on the roads and warns motorists against falling back into dangerous driving habits.

“The reversal in the frequency of U.S. drivers engaging in risky driving behavior is disturbing. While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel---like speeding and driving impaired---are not safe, many still engage in these activities anyway,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “We must be aware of the serious consequences of dangerous driving behaviors and change course.”

As in previous years, drivers reported too often engaging in risky behaviors that they know are dangerous and would meet with disapproval from friends or family. For example:

Texting While Driving

  • 92% think it’s very or extremely dangerous
  • 96% think someone important to them would disapprove
  • 26% admitted to doing it in the last 30 days

Aggressive Driving

  • 88% think it’s very or extremely dangerous
  • 96% think someone important to them would disapprove
  • 23% admitted to doing it in the last 30 days

“The privilege of driving comes with great responsibility, which some motorists are not taking seriously,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Fortunately, we know that reinforcing safe behavior with someone we know can influence them to change, so on our next ride with a passenger, let’s show them how it’s done safely. Together we can move closer to zero traffic deaths.”

AAA recommends these safety tips to keep in mind.

Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb.

Slow down. Drivers tend to overestimate the time saved by speeding. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost.

Stay alert. Stop driving if you become sleepy because you can fall asleep anytime. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision.

Drive sober. If you consume marijuana or alcohol, then don’t drive. If you are taking potentially impairing prescription medications, discuss with your doctor or pharmacist how best to stay safe AND healthy behind the wheel.

Buckle your seat belt for every ride. It does not matter where in the vehicle you are seated. A properly worn seatbelt is the most effective way to survive a traffic crash.

Source: AAA

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