Recent findings by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have found that, despite knowing the risks, an alarming number of U.S. drivers continue to engage in behaviors that may endanger themselves and others on the road. 

Even though most motorists agree that activities like texting or talking on the phone while driving are dangerous, many admit to doing so on a regular basis. Worse, the research shows that drivers who have been in a recent collision are more likely to engage in risky behavior. 

A disconnect between driver attitudes and behaviors 

A recent Traffic Safety Culture Index by the AAA underscores the discord between American attitudes about risky behaviors and their actual choices. Most motorists consider typing (96.7%) or reading (95.9%) on a hand-held device while driving extremely dangerous. 

Despite this, 41.3% of drivers admitted to reading a text or email behind the wheel within the past 30 days, and 32.1% reported typing a message while driving within the past month. 

A correlation between collisions and risk-taking behaviors 

AAA’s recent study found that motorists who have been in at least one collision within the past two years are much more likely to take risks behind the wheel. That is especially true for drivers who admitted to engaging in distracted driving behaviors. 

The research showed that among drivers involved in a recent crash: 

  • 43% reported texting while driving within the past month, vs. 27% not involved in a collision 
  • 50% reported using a hand-held device to talk while driving within the past month, vs. 30% not involved in a collision 
  • 39% reported running a red light within the past month, vs. 30% not involved in a collision 

Unfortunately, for too many drivers, even experiencing an accident is not enough to influence reckless habits. 

Advice for avoiding an accident 

In the digital era, reaching for a mobile device has become second nature for many Americans. The AAA recommends turning on airplane mode or using other blocking features to minimize distractions while on the road. Additionally, all drivers should make sure to stay alert for other motorists who may not be paying attention.