The number of drivers running red lights, driving drowsy and driving impaired may have declined in the last three years, a new AAA study reports, but many motorists still admit to engaging in risky behaviors while behind the wheel.
These findings are part of an annual AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Traffic Safety Culture Index, which highlights gaps between driver attitudes and their unsafe behaviors. The study’s findings are based on self-reported behaviors of drivers.
Compared to 2018 and 2019, the study reports some small behavioral changes among drivers, even though they have taken greater risks and the number of fatalities in 2020 is the highest since 2007.
“It’s encouraging to see more drivers recognize the danger of certain activities behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s executive director. “However, the ultimate goal is to see the majority of drivers form and practice safe driving habits.”
Despite small changes of decline, the research found speeding and cellphone use remain the two most dangerous driving behaviors.
Study highlights include:
- Nearly 6% of drivers admitted operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, down from 11% in 2018,
- More than 4% admitted to driving within an hour of consuming cannabis, down from 7% in 2018,
- 37% of drivers admitted to driving while using a handheld cellphone, down from 52% in 2018,
- 26% of drivers admitted to running red lights, down from 31% in 2018; and
- 17% of drivers said they’ve driven even though they were so tired they couldn’t keep their eyes open, down from 31% in 2018.
The annual TSCI identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of more than 2,800 licensed drivers ages 16 or older who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey, which was administered between October 23 and November 23, 2020. The AAA Foundation issued its first TSCI in 2008, and the latest report is online: AAAFoundation.org