Americans today are less likely to perceive a serious threat from dangerous driving behaviors such as impaired or distracted driving than in the past, according to an analysis of four years of public surveys conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The decreased concern is accompanied by a six percent increase in traffic fatalities in Oklahoma from 2010 to 2012, from 668 in 2010 to 708 in 2012. This year, however, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reports fatalities are 45 lower than at this time last year.
Nationally, fatalities rose an estimated 5.3 percent from 2011 to 2012, to a total in 2012 of more than 34,000. This is 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. “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.”
Survey results during the previous four years show decreasing concern for dangerous driving behaviors:
· 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 number of people who consider drowsy driving a very serious threat declined from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.
· The number of people who believe that texting or emailing while driving is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. The number of people who admit to texting while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent during the same period.
· 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 (38 percent) admitted to running a red light within the previous month.
“Even though we’ve seen an uptick in traffic fatalities in Oklahoma lately, it’s important to remember that as recently as 2005, a total of 800 motorists lost their lives on our roadways,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “It’s clear more must be done to address the dangers of drunk, distracted and drowsy driving.”