A new study has come out from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which takes a look at the prevailing attitudes of some drivers toward those things that one would often think of as hazardous along the roads. That means things like distraction, intoxication, fatigued driving, and various other potentially debilitating driving maneuvers. However, the numbers are interesting in that they seem to outline the idea that, while many people recognize the dangers posed by certain actions, people tend to indulge in those activities anyway.
Take distracted driving, for example. In 2012, 81% of people said they believed texting and driving to be a very serious threat, with a similar number saying that the action was completely unacceptable. That 81% is down from the 87% who said the same in 2009. But when people were asked about their own texting habits, 25% copped to the fact that they had texted at the wheel at some point in the past 30 days.
That disparity suggests that there are people who, while they realize that texting is a serious and unacceptable hazard, still insist on texting anyway. The president of the foundation points out that this could be indicative of a tendency among drivers to look down upon other drivers who take part in the very actions they’re willing to indulge in. Many may believe that their own abilities are better than that of others.
It wasn’t just texting that drivers were questioned about. The 11,000 or so people surveyed between 2009 and 2012 were also asked about their opinions on drunk driving. While nine in ten in 2009 said that they thought this was a serious threat, only 69% said the same last year. That decrease in people who perceive it is a threat is disappointing when you consider the ever-present danger still posed by drunk drivers on the road. As a matter of fact, the California Highway Patrol this very weekend will be taking part in an enforcement operation targeting intoxication.
There was also a reduction in the number of people who viewed fatigued driving as a serious threat. While 71% acknowledged the danger in 2009, that number also dropped sharply to 46%. And only 70% of people thought running a red light was unacceptable, another drop from years prior.
This is dispiriting, especially in light of the 34,000 road fatalities that took place last year, the first time in seven years that deaths had trended up instead of down. A Governors Highway Safety Association spokesperson worries that highway safety as a whole is a topic that isn’t getting as much attention as it used to from the media and the public at large.