- Americans are more complacent about drunken, drowsy and aggressive driving than they were four years ago, according to a national survey released Thursday by AAA.
- This new complacency comes as traffic deaths have begun to edge back up.
- The number of people who believe driving after drinking is a serious threat declined from a near universal 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012.
WASHINGTON — Motorists have developed more cavalier attitudes toward such dangerous behaviors as drunk, aggressive and drowsy driving, just as road deaths have increased for the first time in seven years, a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analysis shows.
The number of people who believe driving after drinking is a serious threat declined from a near universal 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012, the analysis of four years of public surveys shows.
Driving while drowsy isn't as worrisome to the respondents either, with the number of people who considering it a very serious threat declining from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.
Despite the warnings of texting while driving, those who believe it is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. Perhaps more troublesome is those who admit to texting while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent during the same period.
Running red lights is more acceptable, too. The number of people who consider red-light running to be completely unacceptable declined from 77 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2012. More than one-third of those surveyed admitted to running a red light within the previous month.
These attitudes have surfaced as traffic deaths have begun to edge back up.
There were more than 34,000 traffic deaths in 2012, a 5.3 percent increase. That was the first annual increase in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"Motorists may be growing more complacent about potential safety risks behind the wheel," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a statement. "A 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude remains common, with many motorists consistently admitting to engaging in the same dangerous behaviors for which they would condemn other drivers."
The analysis tracked how the public's views and perceptions of traffic safety issues changed over four years. More than 11,000 surveys were administered to Americans aged 16 and older from 2009-'12 to determine the results.
Edmunds says: It's time for a wake-up call. Drivers are forgetting that someone dies on America's roadways every 15 minutes.