AAA: Driver behavior is getting better, but needs improvement


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – AAA reported that unsafe driving has decreased in the past three years, with some dangerous driving behaviors lowered more than others.

The new data was collected from the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, emphasizing the gap between drivers’ attitudes and behaviors reported.

“Based on self-reported driving behaviors from our annual survey of traffic safety culture, it is encouraging to see more drivers recognize the danger of certain activities behind the wheel,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Northeast. “However, the ultimate goal is to see the majority of drivers form safe driving habits and practice them.” As more Americans return to the daily commute, AAA reminds all motorists to practice safe driving behaviors by focusing on the task of driving, keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

With the pandemic, fewer Americans were driving in 2020. Those that did, however appeared to take greater risks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that an estimated 38,680 people died in car crashes, which was a 7.2% increase and the largest number of fatalities since 2007.

“Your risk of dying in a crash doubles from 55 to 65 mph, and triples if you go 75 mph. So one thing we can all do is ease up on the gas pedal a little bit,” said Mark Schieldrop from AA Northeast.

“AAA has some positive news to share about trends in safer driving behaviors, but it’s not quite time to declare victory,” said Ms. Maguire. “Downward trends in self-reported impaired driving, red-light running, and drowsy driving is the kind of progress we need to curb the recent spikes in traffic fatalities. It’s our hope we are turning a corner.”

AAA says police are issuing a record number of tickets for speeds over 100 miles per hour. However, some drivers say they aren’t surprised.

“I think it’s increased because there’s a lot more driving going on. people aren’t pay attention they are talking on their cellphones and so forth,” said Stephan Platzer of Longmeadow.

AAA recommends these safety tips:

  • Obey speed limits. Drivers tend to overestimate the time saved by speeding. You’d have to travel 100 miles to save roughly 5 minutes, moving at 80 mph instead of 75 mph. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost. And recent AAA Foundation research shows that small speed increases were enough to raise a driver’s risk of severe injury or death.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb.
  • Only drive sober. If you consume marijuana, alcohol, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive. And if you’re going to drive, then don’t consume these substances.
  • Stay alert. Stop driving if you become sleepy because you could fall asleep at any time. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment, and vision, causing people who are very tired to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.

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