Motorists are less concerned about the dangerous habits of other drivers on the road, despite an estimated 5.3% increase in traffic fatalities in 2012, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation. The survey found that drivers are not as worried about sharing the road with people who are drunk, aggressive, or distracted behind the wheel.
In a dramatic example of driver complacency, the number of people who believe that drinking and driving is an extremely dangerous activity declined from 90% in 2009 to 69% in 2012.
A fourth of those surveyed said that they text while operating a motor vehicle, despite sharp warnings from law enforcement and new anti-texting laws. In the time it takes to compose a text, a driver on a highway takes his or her eyes off the road for enough time to drive the length of a football field.
Most people agree that texting and driving is a bad idea, but evidently some drivers are likely to ignore common sense.
Another recent AAA study found that people who use cell phones while driving are also likely to engage in other bad habits, such as speeding, not wearing seat belts, and driving while drowsy. Teens in particular are likely to drive while fatigued or drowsy, which contributes to their high accident rates. A recent survey found that one in seven teen drivers admitted to nodding off behind the wheel in the past year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about 660,000 U.S. residents are driving and using electronic devices and cell phones at any given minute during daylight hours. Given the increased number of people injured in car crashes — approximately 34,000 in 2012 — these figures are troubling. So safety officials are urging people to buckle up, pay attention, and put down their phones while traveling.