Depth of Perception Lacking, AAA Discovers

Motorists more nonchalant about dangerous behaviors

Phoenix, Aug. 22, 2013. Americans now perceive drunk, aggressive or drowsy driving and texting while driving to be less of a threat than in past years, a Traffic Safety Culture Index by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found.

The decreased concern is accompanied by an estimated 5.3 percent increase in annual traffic fatalities, totaling more than 34,000 in 2012. This is the first annual increase in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Arizona, fatalities decreased slightly, from 827 in 2011 to 823 in 2012, according to Arizona Department of Transportation.

“As a leader in driver safety, AAA is alarmed to see motorists becoming complacent about traffic safety,” Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “These new survey findings reinforce that more must be done to address dangerous driving behaviors through public education, legislation and enforcement.”

The foundation’s analysis shows that Americans are less likely to perceive a serious threat from dangerous driving behaviors:

  • The number of people who believe driving after drinking is a serious threat declined from a near universal 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012. Though one in six deadly crashes involves a drowsy driver, the number of people who consider drowsy driving a very serious threat declined from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.
  • The number of people who believe that texting or emailing while driving is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. Furthermore, the number of people who admit to texting while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent during the same period. However, a AAA survey conducted last year revealed 92 percent of AAA members support a statewide ban on texting for all drivers in Arizona.
  • The number of people who consider red-light running to be completely unacceptable declined from 77 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2012. However, nearly 40 percent admitted to running a red light within the previous month. Since 1987, statistics show that cities in Arizona that use red light cameras are reducing crashes and saving lives.

“We have made great strides in recent years to reduce road deaths, but there are still too many needless fatalities caused by dangerous driving,” Gorman said. “As an advocacy organization, it is clear that more must be done to address this concerning trend.”

As an advocate for the safety and security for the motoring public, AAA monitors more than 100 automotive-, insurance-, traffic safety-, transportation- and travel-related bills on average at the Arizona legislature every year. For more information, visit AAA’s Legislative Action Center.

Someone dies on America’s roadways every 15 minutes. Fatalities include drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and every other kind of road user. Car crashes affect young people disproportionately by killing more people aged 5-34 than any other cause of death. More than 2.3 million people annually also suffer serious injuries from crashes.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed four years (2009-2012) of survey data collected for the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which tracks how the public’s views and perceptions of traffic safety issues change over time. More than 11,000 surveys were administered to Americans aged 16 and up from 2009-2012 to determine the results.

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AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 840,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.