The fact that most drivers are aware of the potential dangers of actions like speeding, texting and drinking behind the wheel is a testament to the intensive efforts of public safety officials.
However, our Hammond car accident attorneys know there is a disconnect between this awareness and actual driving habits. That is, people recognize that these actions are risky and many even support tighter laws for violators – but they also continue to commit such offenses themselves.
This phenomenon was most recently highlighted in the AAA Foundation for Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index survey, which polled some 4,000 drivers – oversampling the 16-to-18-year-old crowd – regarding their road safety views and habits.
What researchers discovered was that with almost every major safety concern, there was a very clear “Do as I say, not as I do” pattern. Drivers expressed the belief that while things like driving drowsy aren’t acceptable and should be harshly penalized, many admitted to committing such offenses themselves at some point over the last year.
For example, almost half of all those questioned reported that sleep-deprived motorists are a serious threat to personal safety and almost 100 percent said it was unacceptable for someone to drive a vehicle when they were so tired they were fighting to keep their eyes open. Yet almost a third admitted to driving drowsy within the past month. A fifth reported having done it more than once. A small portion said they do this regularly, with men about 7 percent more likely than women.
We have to consider too that this is all self-reported, so the actual numbers are in all likelihood much higher.
Red light running was another problem on which researchers focused. More than 90 percent of respondents said it was unacceptable for a driver to run a red light if they could have safely made a stop. More than 55 percent said they would support the use of automatic ticket cameras to issue citations for red-light running in urban settings. Yet astonishingly, nearly 40 percent said that they had done it themselves in the 30 days prior (which makes you wonder why there aren’t even more serious accidents every day!). A quarter of respondents said they had done it more than once.
Speeding too is widespread. Almost half of all motorists said they viewed going more than 10 miles per hour in a residential area posed a significant safety threat. Roughly 35 percent said the same of those who traveled more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on the expressway. At the same time, about half conceded to doing one or the other during the previous month. Twelve percent said they sped frequently.
The use of cell phones – both calls and texts/emails – is also a leading cause of accidents. Almost 60 percent of drivers said that other motorists talking on the phone posed a serious personal safety threat, and almost 100 percent said the same about texting. Yet, nearly 70 percent admitted to talking on the phone while operating a vehicle in the last month and another 35 percent said they had typed or responded to a text or e-mail. Researchers noted their belief, based on crash statistics involving phones, that the actual rate was likely much higher.
Impaired driving is another risky behavior that most people agreed poses a significant hazard on the road and were in favor of tougher DUI laws. In this case, about 15 percent of motorists admitted to at some point over the last year driving when their blood alcohol content was either close to or over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. About 10 percent said they had done so more than once.
As this research reveals, we can’t always trust that other drivers are going to be engaging in safe behaviors. Cautious, defensive driving is paramount.
Indiana Personal Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove works with clients throughout northern Indiana, including Gary, Highland, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll-free 877-446-5294.
2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, Annual Report, January 2013, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
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Indiana DUI Crashes Increase Following Super Bowl Festivities, Feb. 2, 2013, Hammond Personal Injury Lawyer Blog