Motorists denounce bad driving habits, but admit they are guilty of doing them — a lot

Many Americans report they regularly speed, run red lights, use distracting devices or drive drowsy even though one in three have a loved one who has been seriously injured or killed in a crash.

According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, unsafe behaviors persist even though one in five drivers have themselves been involved in a serious crash, while one in 10 has been seriously injured in a crash.

“It is very disappointing that we continue to see a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude, where large numbers of motorists seem to recognize risky behaviors but do them anyway,” said Lloyd Albert, senior vice president of public and government affairs for AAA Northeast.

“Enhancing the safety culture in society must begin with each individual," Albert said.

Red lights, speeding, testing

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual survey assesses and benchmarks the attitudes and behaviors of drivers. The most recent survey found that unsafe driving behaviors are widespread.

These unsafe actions include:

Red light running:  More than a third (36%) of drivers admit to running red lights, yet 55% say it’s a very serious threat while 73% say it’s unacceptable;

Speeding on residential streets (10 mph over the limit or more):  Nearly half of drivers report speeding (44%), yet 65% say it’s unacceptable;

Drowsy driving:  Almost a third of drivers (29%) admitted to drowsy driving, yet 45% say it is a very serious threat while 81% say it is completely unacceptable;

Texting or emailing:  More than a quarter (27%) of drivers report typing or sending a text or email, yet 79% of drivers say it’s a very serious threat to safety while 84% say it’s unacceptable.

Talking on cell phone

When it comes to specific distracted driving behaviors in the past 30 days:

— two in three drivers reported talking on their cell phone; and;

— one in three drivers reported talking on their cell phone often, or reading a text message or email.

Hands-free phone use

The findings also offered insight about drivers’ attitudes related to cognitive distraction.

Two out of three drivers believe hands-free phone use is acceptable, and nearly half of drivers who report using speech-based, in-vehicle systems say they don’t believe these systems are at all distracting.

These results are prevalent despite extensive research indicating hands-free devices can lead to cognitive distraction.

About the local AAA

AAA Northeast is a nonprofit auto club that serves more than 5.1 million members with travel, insurance, finance and auto-related services.

The American Automobile Association affiliate covers parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.