The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Drivers Feel Driving Is Getting Riskier, Yet Most Admit to Dangerous Behaviors

July 12, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. — American drivers say the aggressive and distracted behavior of other drivers is more aggravating than traffic delays, road construction, and personal stress combined. That’s the finding of the third-annual Drive for Life poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research. The poll, which included 1,100 licensed drivers, revealed that drivers feel less safe and perceive they are more likely to get into a collision than five years ago. According to the poll, most drivers admit to engaging in at least one distraction while driving — and the list is growing thanks to technological devices such as global positioning systems, DVD players, and text messaging. The poll indicates that multi-tasking while driving is only likely to grow, with the youngest, least experienced drivers being the group most likely to drive while sending or reading a text message or talking on a cell phone. Drive for Life is a nationwide educational effort sponsored by Volvo Cars of North America in partnership with the National Association of Police Organizations and the National Sheriffs’ Association, with expertise from AAA and technical support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Nearly half of those surveyed in the new poll say they find driving more aggravating than just two years ago, with one in four calling it much more aggravating. And, while an equal number of drivers cited aggressive and distracted drivers as the greatest safety threats on the road, most drivers admitted to one or more of those behaviors themselves:

  • Sixty-eight percent of drivers admit to speeding.
  • One in three drivers surveyed admit to driving while emotionally upset, and 16 percent say they have driven in a hostile or aggressive manner because they were late.
  • While one in three drivers say cell phone usage by other drivers is their greatest aggravation on the road, 43 percent say they use a cell phone while driving.
  • Beyond talking on a cell phone, most drivers admit to engaging in at least one distracting behavior, with 52 percent saying they eat while driving, and 17 percent saying they even read while driving. Ninety-four percent of drivers say they wear a seat belt all or most of the time. Nearly one in four drivers said a seat belt saved their own life or the life of a family member. Nearly one in three drivers said they have had a collision in the past five years — and one in 10 had a collision in the past year. The poll also shows drivers value safety as the most important feature in choosing a vehicle, topping economy, fuel efficiency, seating and cargo space, speed and performance, and appearance. In other common safety lapses, the poll found:

  • One in three admit to driving through a red light or driving through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop.
  • One in three admit to driving while drowsy.
  • Eighteen percent of drivers thought it acceptable to drive after consuming an alcoholic beverage.
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