AAA’s president and CEO, Peter Kissinger, is blaming complacency for his foundation’s recently released survey results. According to a national survey conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, American drivers are less concerned with dangerous driving practices, such as drunk driving, than they were four years ago even though traffic fatalities have risen slightly. Among the other dangerous driving habits were drowsy driving, aggressive driving, texting while driving, and talking on the phone while driving.
The percentage of people who believed that driving while under the influence was a very serious threat to the roads declined from 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012. The decline in those who believed that driving under the influence was “completely unacceptable” was less drastic, going from 95 percent in 2009 to 89 percent in 2012. Of those surveyed 14 percent admitted to driving within the last year when they thought that their blood alcohol was close to or above the legal limit.
Why the difference?
It could be that four years ago, the Transportation Secretary at the time, Ray LaHood launched a federal campaign against distracted driving bringing issues of highways safety to the public’s attention. Unlike it was four years ago, public and media attention to highway safety issues seems to be waning, according to Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association.
“Much of that has died down,” Adkins said. “Also, when highway fatalities go down, as they have until just very recently, there is less attention paid to it by the media and people tend to feel like that problem has been solved. Highway safety in general has always been difficult to make a big concern among the public despite the high numbers (of deaths).”
Let’s just hope that the numbers don’t mean that people are less likely to drive defensively.