While some 92% of U.S. drivers believe texting on a handheld cell phone while behind the wheel is very or extremely dangerous, a troubling 26% admit to doing it in the last 30 days, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Fewer drivers — specifically, 77% — perceived holding and talking on a handheld cell phone or using a technology that allows hands-free use of their phones (17%) as being very or extremely dangerous.
Perhaps that’s why a good number of drivers engage in these risky activities. For example, 36% reported having read a text/email while driving and 37% say they held and talked on a cell phone while behind the wheel. More than half of the drivers — 57% — indicated having used a hands-free technology to talk or send texts or emails while driving.
Clearly, distracted driving, which killed 3,142 people on U.S. roadways in 2020 alone, remains a real problem across the nation.
However, the report indicates that all risky driving behaviors are on the rise — not just distraction behind the wheel.
Consider, for example, aggressive driving — which can mean many things, including tailgating or switching lanes too quickly. Nearly 23% of respondents admitted to those behaviors — that’s a 7.5% increase over what drivers told AAA Foundation in 2020.
Speeding is another critical problem. Though 63% of drivers believed police would apprehend them for traveling 15mph over the speed limit on a freeway, approximately half reported having engaged in the behavior in the past 30 days before the survey.
What’s more, many drivers don't want themselves or their fellow drivers to get caught! Less than half (45%) of the respondents supported a policy using cameras to automatically ticket drivers who drive more than 10 mph over the speed limit on residential streets.
Motorists’ reactions to impaired driving indicate inaccurate perceptions as it concerns the effects of cannabis while behind the wheel.
Approximately 94% of drivers believed driving after drinking enough alcohol — to the point one considers they might be over the legal limit — was very or extremely dangerous. Only 7% of respondents reported having engaged in this behavior in the past 30 days.
But here’s a startling contrast concerning marijuana. Only 65% of drivers felt driving within an hour of using marijuana to be very or extremely dangerous. Moreover, 5% of respondents admitted they did so — that’s an increase of nearly 14% over 2020.
Even drowsy driving remains a critical concern on the nation’s roadways. The majority of drivers perceived drowsy driving to be very or extremely dangerous (95%). However, 19% of drivers reported having engaged in the behavior in the past 30 days.