High Risk Driving Activities Poll
March 16, 2017
The National Safety Council (NSC) recently published a survey conducted by the Toluna Group. The survey was on high-risk driving activities and polled over 2,000 people on their driving actions and behaviors. Over four-fifths of the responders said they had safety concerns while behind the wheel, but the results show that a large amount of people continue to take part in unsafe, illegal driving activities despite these concerns.
There were certain requirements that the survey mandated, such as driving at least 15 minutes a day and have an unrestricted driver’s license. The majority of participants drove 30 minutes to 1 hour daily, most likely as part of a work commute. Results showed that the participants were most concerned with driving as a potential cause of injury or death for themselves or their family members.
When it came to traffic safety issues, responders were most concerned with drunk, distracted, drugged, and aggressive drivers, as well as speeding, road rage and tired drivers on the roadways. Secondary concerns included bad weather, teen drivers, driverless or automated cars and road maintenance.
The survey asked participants if, in the last three months, they had driven although they felt their driving abilities had been impaired or compromised. 10% of them said they had. The majority of them had driven in an unsafe manner, such as crossing a median or dozing off behind the wheel. Nearly half of them said they were nearly involved in a crash, ticketed for drunk driving or actually involved in a crash. 41% were stopped so that police could perform an on-road sobriety check. These responses illuminate how even though most participants felt that driving impaired was unsafe, many of them still did so, putting themselves and others at serious risk.
When asked if they were concerned that the legalization of marijuana could negatively affect overall traffic safety, 42% responded that this was a major concern. Regardless, 13% said that in the last month alone, they had driven after using the drug. Additionally, 17% said they had taken opioid pain medications in the last month, and 64% felt it was safe to drive after taking them. Many of these medications have a warning that driving and operating machinery can be unsafe due to impairment from the medication.
The survey asked many questions about appropriate and safe speeds on different types of U.S. roadways, such as multi-lane highways, major roads, residential streets and school zones. Nearly 30% of people said they thought it was safe to travel at least 5 mph over the posted speed limit on multi-lane highways and major roads. Anywhere from 10-15% assumed driving 10 mph over the limit was safe as well. When it came to residential streets and school zones, however, the majority of responders said they felt they should drive at or below the posted speed limits.
Another major contributor to unsafe driving as well as accidents highlighted in the survey was distracted driving, such as when texting or making a phone call. The NSC has documented almost 330,000 annual accidents that are caused by texting while driving alone. This means that out of all vehicular accidents, 1 out of 4 are caused by texting while driving. There are a total of 1.6 million car accidents each year that are the cause of phone calls and texting; so distracted driving is a major cause of dangerous and deadly roadway incidents.
The participants of the survey were women and men, mostly between the ages of 30 and 39. Many of them had children who would be in the car with them during various driving activities, and while only 36% were required to drive as a part of their occupations, nearly all participants had to drive as part of a work commute. Most drove in urban or suburban areas. In other words, the survey put together a clear picture of drivers across the country in all different areas, and showed that it is not only the driving individuals at risk because of their attitudes and actions, but their children as well.
The results of the survey show that while most participants are concerned with various driving activities that they still drive while distracted, under the influence or while speeding. This is particularly alarming because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) documents at least 30,000 driving fatalities annually from speeding-related accidents. Many speed-related accidents occurred when drivers were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The NHTSA also notes that accidents are more likely to occur when roadways are icy, snow-covered or wet.
The administration conducted the survey in order to gain a greater understanding of predominant driving attitudes and behaviors that can contribute to car accidents or impede driver safety. The NSC hopes to use the results of its survey to implement policies and educational programs that will help to inhibit car accidents and fatalities.
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