Based on the results of a recently published AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, Virginia drivers recognize dangerous driving behaviors that can lead to auto accidents. However, many admit to engaging in those same risky behaviors.
AAA reports that 2,705 licensed drivers in the U.S. took part in the Traffic Safety Culture Index survey, including 391 drivers in Virginia. The goal of the survey was to identify whether drivers value traffic safety – and whether they are doing anything to make driving safer for themselves and others on the road.
Unfortunately, AAA found that a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude exists among too many drivers in Virginia and across the country. For example:
The consensus view is that speeding is dangerous and a leading cause of car accidents. For instance, the majority of drivers in Virginia said they found driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway to be “somewhat or completely unacceptable” (76 percent). Also, 64 percent said they viewed drivers speeding on freeways to be a “very or somewhat serious threat.”
However, 40 percent of the same drivers said they had done so within the past month, and 9 percent of the drivers said they did so “regularly or fairly often.”
This attitude may explain why there has been a recent spike in speeding-related traffic fatalities in Virginia. According to the most recent Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) statistics, there was an 8.3 percent increase in fatalities caused by speeding between 2012 and 2013.
Drunk driving is a serious issue in our state. The DMV reports there were 253 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Virginia in 2013 – a nearly 10.5 percent increase from the year before. In Richmond during that year, 274 alcohol-involved crashes occurred, killing five people and injuring 178 others.
The good news: Drinking and driving is one area where drivers’ attitudes match their actions. Progress is clearly being made in this area.
In the AAA survey, 98 percent of Virginia drivers said they believed it was unacceptable for people to drive after they have had too much to drink. Also, only 1 percent said they had driven within the past 30 days when they thought they were close to or possibly over the legal driving limit (0.08 BAC).
In contrast to drinking and driving, attitudes clearly do not sync with behavior among Virginia drivers when it comes to distracted driving.
For instance, 96 percent told AAA that typing text messages or e-mailing while driving was unacceptable and a threat. Still, a surprisingly high number of drivers (30 percent) said they had done so in the previous 30 days, and 8 percent said they often did it.
Additionally, 54 percent in Virginia said that talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is not acceptable behavior. (Oddly, only 27 percent viewed using hands-free cell phones as unacceptable.) Furthermore, 81 percent said that talking on a cell phone when behind the wheel is a threat.
Yet, 80 percent admitted they had talked on a cell phone (hands-free or hand-held) in the past month, and 37 percent admitted to doing it on a regular basis.
Again, with drowsy driving, there is a gap between perception and behavior.
Ninety-six percent of Virginia drivers said they viewed it as unacceptable to drive when you are so tired that you have a hard time keeping your eyes open, and 79 percent said sleepy drivers are a threat to their safety. Regardless, 35 percent said they had driven in that condition within the past month.
The takeaway here is that drivers in Virginia clearly understand that they owe a duty to others on the road. They realize that actions such as speeding, driving while impaired, distracted driving and fatigued driving put themselves and others in danger. Still, many drivers engage in this behavior anyway.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a driver who neglected his or her duty to drive safely, Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C., can help you to hold that driver accountable and seek the compensation you deserve. Simply contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.