Throughout West Virginia, drivers use their cell phones while behind the wheel every day despite the known dangers. When responding to a recent survey conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 80 percent of drivers indicated distracted driving was dangerous and was a bigger threat today than it was three years ago. Yet, among these same drivers, 70 percent said they personally had used their phones over the past 30 days. Almost one out of every three of these same drivers said they use their phone either fairly often or on a regular basis while driving.
This response was just one of many in which drivers seemed to express concern about high-risk behaviors behind the wheel, yet engage in these very same behaviors. Drivers often see the risks of the actions of others, while underestimating the danger they personally present if they do things which make a car accident more likely to occur. If these drivers engage in high-risk behaviors and cause accidents, they can be held accountable.
Drivers Doing Dangerous Things as they Operate their Vehicles
According to the AAA Foundation, 87 percent of drivers had done at least one thing that was dangerous while driving in the course of the 30 days before taking a survey. The high risk behaviors the drivers did included not just distracted driving (like talking on a phone or sending a text or email) but also:
- Driving drunk: 13 percent said they'd been behind the wheel over the past year when they thought they were approaching or at the legal limit. Nine percent of drivers said operating while potentially impaired was a regular occurrence.
- Speeding: 48 percent of drivers said they had exceeded a posted highway speed limit by at least 15 MPH over the prior month of driving on highways. Fifteen percent said they regularly exceeded posted limits on highways by at least 15 MPH.
- Running a red: 39 percent of drivers said they had run a red light they could have safely stopped at when the light had just changed. Twenty-six percent said they regularly went through a light which had just changed, although they could have stopped their cars.
- Drowsy driving: 32 percent of drivers said they'd been dozing off behind the wheel but continued to drive over the course of the past 30 days. Twenty-two percent indicated they had experienced more than one incident over the course of the prior month in which they'd been too drowsy to drive safely.
- Not wearing a seat belt: 18 percent of motorists said they had gone without a seatbelt at least once over the prior 30 days.
Most drivers know someone who has been in an accident. In fact, one in five say they'd personally been in a crash which was serious enough that hospitalization was required for at least one of the involved parties. One on three said someone they knew, like a friend or family member, had been killed or injured in a crash. Drivers need to consider the very real risk their behavior causes and need to take steps to avoid these and other high-risk behaviors.