A new annual report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that, by-and-large, drivers know what to do to keep themselves and others safe. What’s more, they support tougher laws to ensure compliance.
What our North Carolina car accident attorneys find troubling, however, is that many of those anonymously polled apparently did not feel these same standards should apply to them, as evidenced by the fact that many admitted to engaging in these risky behaviors – sometimes repeatedly – over the last year.
This is not a new phenomenon – researchers have reported the same type of attitudes since they began studying this issue. Still, the continuing trend of this double standard is disturbing, especially when we consider that tens of thousands of people are killed each year in this country in motor vehicle crashes. On average, we’re losing 90 people a day to this problem – many of those children and teenagers.
In North Carolina, we see an average of 1,300 to 1,500 traffic fatalities every year, according to the state Department of Transportation, with about a third of those attributed to alcohol-impaired driving and even more to excessive speed.
And most drivers know this.
When it came to drunk driving, AAA Foundation researchers found that nearly 70 percent of motorists viewed it as a very serious threat to their own personal safety, and close to 100 percent said they consider it totally unacceptable. At the same time, about 15 percent admitted to having driven drunk at least once over the previous year. Almost 10 percent said they had done so more than once, and roughly 2 percent said they had done it in the last month. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of respondents said they would support tougher DUI sanctions, such as mandated ignition interlock devices even for first-time offenders.
With regard to speed, most people agreed that going faster than 15 miles per hour above the speed limit on the highway or faster than 10 miles per hour over the limit in residential areas was totally unacceptable. Yet 16 percent and nearly 50 percent, respectively, admitted to doing this themselves over the last year.
Interestingly, respondents miscalculated the beliefs of other drivers on this point, incorrectly asserting that most people don’t view speed as a significant roadway danger. This shows that most people think other drivers hold little respect for speed limits, when this attitude is actually reflected in their own behaviors behind the wheel.
It was the same story for red light running. Approximately 91 percent of those surveyed found it unacceptable for someone to blow through a red light if they could have instead made a safe stop. Yet almost 40 percent admitted to having done this in the last 12 months, and a whopping 25 percent said they had been guilty of this in the last month. Given this, the only surprise is that the accident rate isn’t higher.
Distracted driving as well was scorned by respondents, with three out of five saying talking on the phone while driving was a serious threat to personal safety and nearly 98 percent saying the same of text messaging. And yet, 60 percent reported talking on a handheld device while driving. A smaller percentage – about a quarter – reported having texted or e-mailed while driving, but researchers believe the number of those who actually did so was in fact much higher.
Certainly, recognition of any problem is the first step to resolving it, but we all need to take this a step further and make it a point to align our actions with our beliefs.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, Annual Report, January 2013, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
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