HomeLifestyleDeadly Driving Behaviors Surge, New Survey Finds

Deadly Driving Behaviors Surge, New Survey Finds

Speeding, red-light running, drowsy driving, and driving impaired on cannabis or alcohol are among the dangerous actions behind the wheel that have risen from 2020 to 2021, reversing the steady declines in these behaviors in the three years from 2018 through 2020.

Those are the main findings of a new survey released on Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education association, as part of its most recent annual Traffic Safety Culture Index.

After years of improvement, an “alarming” increase of nearly 24% occurred among drivers who admitted to driving after drinking enough that they felt they were over the legal limit, researchers said, and a more than 13% bump in the number of motorists who reported driving within an hour of consuming cannabis.

“The reversal in the frequency of U.S. drivers engaging in risky driving behavior is disturbing,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation, said in a statement. “While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel – like speeding and driving impaired, are not safe, many still engage in these activities anyway.”

Traffic fatalities spiked since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the study noted, and nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from 2020, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates. Unsafe behaviors like speeding, alcohol impairment, and non-use of seat belts accounted for a considerable proportion of the increased fatalities, the federal agency said.

“We must be aware of the serious consequences of dangerous driving behaviors and change course,” Dr. Yang added.

Other highlights from the survey, which was conducted online and included responses from 2,657 U.S. licensed drivers ages 16 or older:

  • 26% of respondents admitted to texting while driving at least once in the 30 days before answering the survey questions; and
  • 23% admitted to aggressive driving.

“The privilege of driving comes with great responsibility, which some motorists are not taking seriously,” Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, said in a statement. “Fortunately, we know that reinforcing safe behavior with someone we know can influence them to change, so on our next ride with a passenger, let’s show them how it’s done safely. Together we can move closer to zero traffic deaths.”

For more information about the survey, including the full report and recommendations to help prevent motorists from falling back into unsafe driving habits, click here.

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