Since 2006, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has continued to sponsor research in effort to measure and benchmark the attitudes and behaviors of drivers in America. This is in an attempt to understand and strengthen a culture of safety on our roads.

Despite a rising number of fatal crashes all around the country, still a large number of drivers admit that they have engaged in dangerous driving habits. The 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that an attitude of “do as I say, not as I do” exists among a large percentage of motorists, many of whom admit to engaging in the same dangerous behaviors that they criticize as being “unacceptable.” In fact, about 87% of drivers engaged in at least one of the risky behaviors examined in the survey while behind the wheel within the past month.

Just like in previous years, the Traffic Safety Culture Index found that Americans value safe travel and a desire of greater level of safety than they currently experience. They perceive unsafe driver behaviors such as speeding and impaired driving as serious threats to their personal safety and generally support laws that would improve traffic safety by restricting driver behavior, so why do they engaging in these behaviors themselves?

Here is just some of what the AAA Foundation revealed.

Impaired Driving

  • More than 1 in 8, drivers admit to driving at least once in the past year when they thought their alcohol level may have been over the legal limit, and of these drivers, more than 15% said they did so in the past month.
  • There is majority support for requiring alcohol-ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of DWI, even for first time offenders requiring built-in interlocks for all new vehicles, and lowering the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from 0.08 to 0.05.
  • A majority of drivers view people driving while on illegal drugs as a very serious threat, while fewer say the same about people driving after using prescription drugs.
  • 4.2%of drivers reported they have driven within 1 hour of using marijuana in the past year, and 1.8% reported having driven within 1 hour of using both marijuana and alcohol in the past year.

Cell phone use and texting

  • 2 in 3 drivers reported being on their cell phone while driving in the past month, 1 in 3 say they do often or regularly. There is fairly strong disapproval toward using any type of hand held device while driving, but more than 2 in 5 drivers believe that most others actually are ok with it.
  • More than 1 in 8 drivers don’t perceive social disapproval from others for texting or emailing, and nearly 1 in 3 admit to typing or sending a text message or email while driving in the past month, more than 2 in 5 have reported reading a text or email. Yet most drivers still view this behavior as a very serious threat to their own personal safety and consider it completely unacceptable.
  • More than 2 in 3 drivers support the restriction of using a hand held device while driving, but less than half support an outright ban on using them, including hands free while driving. There is strong support for laws restricting reading, typing, or sending a text message or email while driving.


  • Nearly half of the drivers surveyed said they have driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a highway in the past month, and 1 in 4 say they consider it acceptable to do so. Nearly half of those same drivers said they have driven 10 mph over the speed limit in a residential area in the past month.

Red light running

  • Most drivers 93.5% view it as unacceptable to drive through a traffic light that just turned red when they could have stopped safely; however, more than 1 in 3 drivers admit doing this in the past month. Drowsy driving

Drowsy Driving

  • Nearly all drivers 97.0% view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and unacceptable behavior, however, nearly 1 in 3 admit to driving while drowsy at some point in the past month.

Seatbelts and helmets

  • Most drivers 88.2% view it as unacceptable to drive without the use of a seatbelt, and more than 4 in 5 say that they never do, however, 1 in 5 admit that they have driven without wearing their seatbelt in the past 30 days, and more than 1 in 7 say they have done this more than once.
  • Four in 5 Americans 80.1% support a law requiring all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, and 59.8% strongly support this.

To learn more on the summary of findings from the AAA Foundation, Click here.

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