Are You a Safe Driver?

According to a study just released by the American Automobile Association (AAA), “On average there is still one needless death every 16 minutes as a result of motor vehicle accidents. To reach zero deaths, each driver must take responsibility for ensuring that they actively choose to be safer drivers.” This study showed a very disturbing trend, in that the vast majority of drivers agree that certain behaviors are dangerous, and yet they perform them regularly anyway.

Ninety-seven percent of all drivers consider it unacceptable and a serious threat to their personal safety to drive after drinking alcohol. However, 14% admit to doing so at least once in the past year. Distracted drivers, specifically cell phone use and texting while driving, is widespread. Ninety-four percent of drivers consider texting while driving a serious threat. However, 35% admit to reading a text or email while driving in the last month, and 26% admit to sending a text message or email while driving in the past month. Sixty-eight percent admit to talking on their cell phones while driving in the last month, and 31% say they do so regularly.

Speeding is widespread on highways and residential roads. Seventy-four percent of drivers consider it unacceptable to drive more than 15 miles an hour over the speed limit on a freeway, and yet 52% admit to having done so in the last month. Ninety-four percent consider it to be unacceptable for a driver to drive 15 miles an hour over the speed limit on a residential street, and yet 26% admit to having done so in the last month. Ninety-four percent of drivers view it as unacceptable to drive through a traffic light that has already turned red if they could have stopped safely. However, 37% admit to doing so in the past month. Ninety-six percent of drivers consider it unacceptable for someone to drive when they are so sleepy that they can hardly keep their eyes open. However, 32% admit to having done so in the last month. Twenty-three percent of drivers admit that they have driven without wearing their seat belts in the last 30 days, and 19% say that they have done this on several occasions.

What is particularly disturbing to me is that all of these behavior patterns are admitted by the drivers themselves to be dangerous and yet anywhere from 25% up to 52% admit to doing these activities on a regular basis. I would value your input (please see the bottom of the blog how you can give your input) as to why there is such a large discrepancy between what we all know and what we all do. In a country that highly values personal freedom, I guess we all have the right to seriously threaten our own wellbeing, but surely we don’t have the right to do so to friends, family members, and strangers around us?

A Better Way to Get Better,
Adrian Lewis
Adrian Lewis, MD