Drivers Engage in Bad Behaviors

By Kayla Henson | DFW Newsflash | July 2019

There were an estimated 36,750 fatalities from motor vehicle crashes during 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Though the number of fatalities is down one percent from 2017, the NHTSA found many accidents are caused by distracted, impaired or reckless driving.

A recent study released by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation provided details on this phenomenon.

The AAA’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI) study was completed using a sample of 2,582 U.S. licensed drivers over 16 years old. Participants were surveyed on perceived danger, risk of arrest, personal and perceived social approval, support for driving laws, and self-reported engagement in behaviors on the road. 

The study found while a majority of drivers in the U.S. value driving safely and establishing laws for safer roads, many engage in the behavior they disapprove of in others.

The study contains several topics including distracted driving, risky and aggressive driving behaviors, drowsy driving and impaired driving.

Distracted Driving

The study found 96.7 percent believe typing a text or email while driving to be extremely dangerous compared to 79.8 percent who believe talking on a cellphone is dangerous.

However, 52.1 percent of those surveyed reported talking on cellphone while driving and 31.1 percent reported typing a text or email while driving.

Also, 45.4 percent of those surveyed opposed enacting a law against hand-held or hands-free cellphones while driving.

The 19-24 year old age group has the highest proportion of drivers who personally approve of reading and typing a text or email while driving. 

Risky and aggressive driving behaviors

The study reports about half of drivers surveyed said speeding on the freeway is dangerous and 64 percent viewed speeding on residential streets as dangerous. However, about half of drivers oppose using cameras to ticket those who drive 10 mph over the speed limit on residential streets.

Almost 66 percent believed police would catch a person driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on the freeway, but almost half reported speeding on a freeway in the past 30 days.

Drowsy driving

A vast majority of those surveyed feel drowsy driving is extremely dangerous, though less than 40 percent believed drowsy drivers risk being caught by police.

Though this section has high rates of perceived danger, around 27 percent reported to have driven while drowsy enough to not keep their eyes open at least once in the past 30 days.

Impaired driving

A high percentage of drivers surveyed reported driving after drinking as extremely dangerous, but almost 11 percent admitted to doing so in the past 30 days.

Furthermore, nearly half of drivers oppose lowering the limit for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration level from 0.08 to 0.05 g/dL.

Age group 19-24 considered drinking and driving very or extremely dangerous. On the other hand, age group 75 and up has the lowest proportion of drivers surveyed who perceived driving after drinking to be very or extremely dangerous. 

Older drivers generally perceive distracted, risky or aggressive driving behaviors as greater danger than impaired driving.

Seventy percent of those surveyed believe driving within an hour of using marijuana as extremely or very dangerous. However, more than 7 percent approve of this behavior.

Over 81 percent of drivers said they support laws to make it illegal to drive with a certain amount of marijuana in the body, and 76.3 percent support laws preventing transportation of a minor by a driver who has had any alcohol.  

The full study can be found at