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Why do drivers engage in dangerous behavior despite knowing the risks?

Car accident attorneys

Many drivers are aware of the consequences of distracted driving, speeding, aggressive driving and impaired driving. Yet, many of them do it anyways, especially those who were involved in crashes within the last two years. That's according to a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.

Approximately 2,714 drivers ages 16 and older were interviewed by AAA researchers in 2019 regarding how they viewed dangerous driving habits and whether or not they engaged in them. The results were published in AAA's most recent annual Traffic Safety Culture Index.

Drivers admit to dangerous behavior

According to Traffic Safety Culture Index, nearly all survey participants believe that drowsy driving and texting are "extremely or very dangerous." Many drivers surveyed admitted to taking such risks within the last 30 days.

Those who were previously involved in crashes were even more likely to engage in risky driving habits. For example:

  • 50% of drivers who were involved in crashes, and 42% of drivers who weren't, admitted to talking on a cellphone within the last 30 days.
  • 43% admitted to texting and driving within the past month in comparison to 27% who were not involved in crashes.
  • 39% of drivers involved in crashes, and 30% who weren't, admitted to running through red lights.
  • More than 40% of all survey participants who engaged in risky driving behavior were aware they could get caught by police.

The good news is that risky driving behaviors have slightly declined since a similar AAA study was done in 2018. This year's index found a nine percent decrease in drivers talking on cellphones, as well as a three percent decrease in drowsy driving, and texting and driving.

“If you point to the dangerous driving behaviors of others that you sometimes do yourself, then you are the problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “I’m encouraged to see a slight shift toward safer driving behaviors, but we have more work to do. Stay focused on driving. This is a must.”

How should drivers avoid risky driving behavior?

Avoiding risky driving behavior is quite simple, and only requires the will to do so. Here are some tips offered by AAA:

  • Keep cellphones out of reach while driving. If unable to do so, simply disable calling, texting and other app features.
  • Drivers should always give themselves more time to get to their destinations in order to avoid speeding. This is especially important during dangerous weather conditions.
  • Drivers should never continue driving when they feel drowsy. Drowsy driving crashes can be avoided by getting off the road and taking a short nap if needed.
  • Alcoholic beverages, marijuana, prescription drugs and other drugs and medications can cause serious cognitive and physical impairment. Those who use these substances should never get behind the wheel.
  • Seatbelts save lives. Drivers and all passengers should always wear them.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash with someone who engaged in risky driving behavior, get an experienced Chicago car accident attorney on your side who can help you fight for justice. Coplan + Crane is dedicated to holding negligent and reckless drivers accountable and helping crash victims recover all damages owed to them.

To find out how, contact us online and schedule your free case evaluation with our legal team.

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