About 9 out of every 10 drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, a new AAA survey has found.
The only people who don’t see this happening on U.S. roadways are either blind, running telecommunications and smartphone companies, or working on traffic safety for the federal government. Members of Congress would see this, too, but only if someone paid them to.
The 2017 Traffic Safety Index also says that nearly 88 percent of respondents not only see distracted driving on the rise but also worry about it more than traffic congestion (75 percent), aggressive driving (68 percent), drugged drivers (55 percent) and drunken driving (43 percent).
The AAA survey captures what all of us see almost every day now: the daredevil, texting with both hands on the phone while steering with his kneecaps; the woman barreling along in the fast lane while presumably punching GPS coordinates into a cellphone mounted right in the middle of her field of vision; or the teenager flying along the road who keeps tilting her head up and down because she doesn’t want to miss anything on that livestream in her lap.
Personal favorite: I was riding down 16th Street in D.C. one night, alongside a guy who was watching a live musical performance on a smartphone clipped to his sun visor while he was merrily singing and keeping time on the door of his SUV with his left hand.
AAA notes that while federal estimates suggest the number of distracted driving crashes has declined by about 2 percent, it’s also because distracted driving is thought to be widely underreported. The organization’s own research, using dash cam videos with teenage drivers, suggests distraction is involved in 58 percent of all crashes, well above federal estimates of 14 percent.
But the survey also notes something else: We’re also hypocrites. Despite the growing alarm over distracted driving, many of us (myself included) have also given in to temptation at some time or other. Nearly 45 percent read a text message or email while driving, and nearly 35 percent sent one, according to the survey.
You can find the full AAA report here.
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