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Dangerous Driving: AAA Survey Reveals Troubling Percentage of Drivers Taking Risks

by John Gomez | Last Updated: February 16, 2017
Dangerous Driving

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us think that the only bad drivers out there are the other drivers.  Many of us have used terms that cannot be repeated in front of children to describe people who were engaging in dangerous driving.  The acts of other motorists that prompted these unfortunate utterances often included speeding, running a red light or texting while driving.

Perhaps we are all a bit guilty of cognitive dissonance when it comes to dangerous driving.  That could be one way to explain the findings of a recent survey that revealed a shocking percentage of motorists who had engaged in dangerous driving during the previous 30 days.  One thing that is clear is that people need to be ready to contact a San Diego car accident lawyer if they have been injured as a result of someone else’s faulty behavior.

About the AAA Dangerous Driving Survey

The American Automobile Association, or AAA, administered the survey.  AAA completes many of these surveys in an effort to inform the public with regards to dangerous driving and other potential problems on the road.  Our firm has covered several of these AAA analyses recently, including those that focused on drowsy driving, debris on the roads and the “100 deadliest days” for teens behind the wheel, among others.

This survey looked at acts that constitute dangerous driving and asked motorists to self-report.  Specifically, AAA asked 2,511 licensed drivers in the United States a series of questions in an online survey that was administered last summer.  The survey asked the participants questions regarding the following:

  • Threats on the highway
  • Acceptability of behaviors
  • Support for laws and countermeasures
  • Frequency of engaging in dangerous driving

The results were surprising when compared to each other, as mentioned above.

Dangerous Driving and Millennials

The survey did not lead to positive results for millennials, or in this case drivers between the ages of 19 and 24.  According to the survey, the following percentages of drivers defined by age group admitted to speeding, running a red light or texting while driving during the previous 30 days:

  • 19 – 24: 88.1 percent
  • 25 – 39: 79.2 percent
  • 40 – 59: 75.2 percent
  • 16 – 18: 69.3 percent
  • 75+: 69.1 percent
  • 60 – 74: 67.3 percent

The survey also found the following with regards to drivers between 19 and 24 years old:

  • 66.1 percent of drivers in this age group admitted to reading a text message or an email while driving during the previous 30 days.
  • 40.2 percent of drivers in all of the other age groups combined admitted to the same form of dangerous driving.
  • Drivers between 19 and 24 were 1.4 times more likely than other motorists to report having driven at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on a residential street during the previous 30 days.
  • Almost half of the drivers in this age group admitted to running through a red light when they could have stopped safely within the previous month.

Those interested in reading the full report on the problems discovered with drivers in this age group can find it here.

Concern Regarding Dangerous Driving

As we mentioned above, it’s strange to see so many people admitting to dangerous driving.  This is especially so when comparing those data to the responses regarding how motorists perceive themselves as compared to other drivers.  Three examples of this contradiction appear below:

How much bigger of a problem is each of the issues below today as compared to three years ago?

Much bigger problem today (%)Somewhat bigger problem today (%)About the same (%)Somewhat smaller problem today (%)Much smaller problem today (%)Don’t know/refused answer (%)

Traffic congestion 42.5 35.4 21.1 0.8 0.2 0.0
Aggressive drivers 43.2 30.1 25.5 1.0 0.2 0.0
Distracted drivers 69.9 21.7 7.6 0.5 0.0 0.2
Drunk driving 26.1 22.9 42.9 7.5 0.5 0.1
Drivers using drugs 29.2 29.4 38.0 3.0 0.3 0.1


How careful are you on the road compared to other motorists?

  Much more careful (%) Somewhat more careful (%) About the same (%) Somewhat less careful (%) Much less careful (%) Don’t know/refused answer (%)
All ages 41.7 41.3 16.2 0.7 0.0 0.2
16 – 18 42.1 37.2 20.3 0.2 0.0 0.2
19 – 24 26.2 48.3 19.8 4.4 0.0 1.4
25 – 39 34.1 46.6 18.4 0.7 0.0 0.3
40 – 59 43.8 40.2 15.9 0.2 0.0 0.0
60 – 74 48.3 37.9 13.5 0.4 0.0 0.0
75+ 54.6 31.5 12.4 0.7 0.0 0.7


How much of a threat to your personal safety are each of the following forms of dangerous driving?

Very serious threat (%)Somewhat serious threat (%)Minor threat (%)Not a threat (%)Don’t know/refused answer (%)

Aggressive driving 54.1 34.8 10.6 0.4 0.2
Talking on cell phones 59.4 29.4 10.4 0.7 0.2
Driving after consuming alcohol 69.2 23.9 6.3 0.5 0.2
Driving after taking prescription drugs 33.9 39.4 24.3 2.1 0.3
Driving after taking illegal drugs 59.8 28.4 11.1 0.7 0.1
Texting or emailing 81.1 16.3 2.1 0.4 0.1
Speeding on freeways 38.3 36.5 21.8 3.2 0.2
Speeding on residential streets 47.6 35.6 15.5 1.2 0.2
Running red lights 60.1 26.7 11.7 1.3 0.2
Drowsy drivers 47.9 36.6 14.3 0.8 0.4


The Dangerous Driving Survey – What It Could Mean

It’s clear that people see the different types of dangerous driving as a serious problem.  It’s also clear that people engage in dangerous driving on a shockingly regular basis.  The statistics above seem to indicate that drivers see others as the problem and not themselves, even when they are engaging in dangerous behaviors.  Unfortunately, anyone who is speeding, running red lights or texting while behind the wheel is driving dangerously and creating risks for both themselves and anyone else in the area at the time.

If you have acquired some bad driving habits, be honest about their existence and change them.  If you or someone you love has been injured by someone driving dangerously, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.

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