Ninety-three percent of drivers think reading on a cell phone while driving is “very or extremely” dangerous. Thirty-six percent of those same drivers admitted to doing it anyway in the last 30 days.
That distressing overlap is one takeaway from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual study of driver behavior.
The 2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index surveyed a representative sample of active, licensed drivers in the U.S. to study driver behavior. The results may shed some light on why federal safety statistics show road deaths have hit a two-decade high.
Plus: 11 more crash deaths are linked to automated-driving systems
We know which behaviors are dangerous behind the wheel. Many of us engage in them anyway.
- Drivers believe texting or emailing (92%) and reading (93%) on a cell phone behind the wheel is dangerous. But in the last 30 days, 36% admit to reading a text or email, and 26% admit to sending one.
- Fewer (77%) perceived talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is dangerous, but more (37%) had done it.
- Though 63% of drivers believe the police would likely apprehend them for traveling 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway, approximately half reported engaging in the behavior within the past month.
- Fewer (65%) believe that driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. But only 5% reported doing so in the last month. Social disapproval may be a factor there — 93% reported that people important to them would disapprove of the behavior.
- Most drivers believe drowsy driving to be very or extremely dangerous (95%) and that those important to them would disapprove of the behavior (99%). However, 19% of drivers reported having engaged in drowsy driving in the past month.
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This story originally ran on KBB.com.