Seventy percent of drivers said they talked on a mobile phone while driving in the previous month, while 31% said they do so fairly often or regularly, according to survey results released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The survey also found that 42% of drivers said they read a text message or e-mail while driving in the past month, while 12% said they do so fairly often or regularly. Also, 32% said they typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving over the last month, with 8% saying they do that fairly often or regularly. Overall, many drivers said they view using a wireless device while driving as dangerous when other drivers are doing it, yet many do it themselves.
The survey of 2,442 licensed drivers was conducted as part of the AAA foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index. Overall, it found that 87% of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior within the previous month. “There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive officer of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, though most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel. We’re asking every driver to make responsible decisions to make the roads safer for everyone.”
More than 80% of drivers surveyed said that distracted driving was a larger problem that it was three years ago.
“There is fairly strong disapproval toward using a hand-held cell phone while driving (68.6%), but more than 2 in 5 drivers believe incorrectly that most others actually approve of it,” according to the foundation. “People are more accepting of hands-free cell phone use than hand-held (63.1% vs. 30.8%).”
“Most drivers view texting or emailing while driving as a very serious threat to their own personal safety and consider it completely unacceptable,” the foundation said. “However, more than 1 in 8 drivers (14.1%) don’t perceive social disapproval from others.”
A total of 55.7% of respondents said they view drivers talking on mobile phones as a very serious threat, while 30.7% said it was a somewhat serious threat. By contrast, 77.4% of respondents said they view drivers text messaging or e-mailing as a very serious threat – compared with 66.3% when drinking alcohol and 57.3% when using illegal drugs – while 18.8% said they were a somewhat serious threat.
“Support for texting bans for drivers is strong, with 87.7 percent support. Support for bans on hand-held mobile devices is lower but solid at 70.3 percent, while support for a total ban (hand-held and hands-free) is even lower (42.4%),” the foundation said. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org