Top Things Drivers are Doing That Threaten Traffic Safety

With motor vehicle deaths increasing substantially, the National Safety Council identified some of the top driver behaviors and beliefs that put all roadway users at risk and increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash. Compiled through NSC surveys conducted over the last 12 months, the alarming driver habits and opinions could help partially explain why deaths are rising and underscore the importance of raising awareness, particularly in April which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“Most Americans recognize risky drivers on the roadways, but they are not adopting safer behaviors themselves,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The notion that bad things happen to other people, but will not happen to us when we are distracted behind the wheel, is akin to playing Russian roulette.”

Some of the top distressing things drivers do – or believe they can do – include:

•47 percent of drivers believe it is safe to send a text either manually or via voice-dictation systems.
•45 percent say they feel pressure from employers to check email while driving; however, 44 percent say they have crashed in the last three years while they were either commuting or traveling for business.
•35 percent of teens – a cohort that has seen an increase in fatal crashes – would use social media behind the wheel.
•17 percent of teens feel their own distraction may have contributed to a crash.
•71 percent believe they can have up to 3 drinks before they are not safe or too impaired to drive.
•33 percent believe it is acceptable to drive with less than four hours of sleep. In fact, drivers who are tired can be as impaired as drivers who are legally drunk.
•32 percent say new cars can essentially drive themselves.
•13 percent have driven after using marijuana in the last month.
•Two-thirds of drivers have felt unsafe because of another driver’s distraction, but just 25 percent feel their own distractions have put themselves or others at risk.

The Council observes Distracted Driving Awareness Month each April to remember the thousands lost each year to preventable crashes.