Road safety depends on drivers’ good judgment and a reduced willingness to take risks. Research shows that unsafe driving behavior is more about the individual person than it is about what they drive. Some people are just more likely to take risks on the road.
The most recent findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual survey revealed:
- 36 percent of drivers admit to running red lights,
- Nearly half of drivers report speeding.
- About 3 in 10 drivers admitted to drowsy driving.
- More than a quarter of drivers report typing or sending a text or email.
- Two out of three drivers believe that hands-free phone use is acceptable and do not believe these systems are at all distracting.
Running Red Lights
Red-light runners injure an estimated 165,000 motorists, cyclists and pedestrians annually.
Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Someone runs a red light an average of every 20 minutes. Red-light running is often a result of aggressive driving, and is preventable.
Over thirty percent of all fatal crashes are estimated to be speeding-related crashes, defined as racing, exceeding the speed limit, or driving too fast for conditions.
Speeding increases the stopping distance required to avoid a collision even as it reduces the amount of time a driver needs to avoid a collision (called the 3-second rule). It also increases the likelihood that the car accident will result in injury. At higher speeds, cars become more difficult to maneuver – especially on corners or curves or where evasive action is necessary.
Photo Source: edmunds.com
Drowsiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction time and affects a driver’s ability to make decisions.
Here are some signs that should tell a driver to stop and rest:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
- Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
- Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
- Feeling restless and irritable
Federal estimates suggest that distraction contributes to 16% of all fatal crashes, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.
Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing them at the same time, your brain is unable to do either well. For example, it’s nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. While driving, this often results in crashes due to delayed braking times and not seeing traffic signals.
The International Telecommunication Union states that “texting, making calls, and other interaction with in-vehicle information and communication systems while driving is a serious source of driver distraction and increases the risk of traffic accidents”
Driving while using hands-free phones
Findings show distracted drivers may not be aware of the effects of cognitive distraction and using cell phones while they are driving. Drivers actually showed decreased performance while using hands-free phones.
Drivers talking on hands-free cell phones are more likely to not see both high and low relevant objects, showing a lack of ability to allocate attention to the most important information. They miss visual cues critical to safety and navigation. They tend to miss exits, go through red lights and stop signs, and miss important navigational signage.
Preventing Risky Driving
- Obey all traffic signals and signs
- Obey speed limits so you have time and space to stop prior to entering an intersection
- Be fully awake when operating a vehicle
- Do call or text while operating a vehicle, even on a hands-free phone.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of another driver’s risky behavior, call an experienced attorney discuss your rights.