Majority of Americans are dangerous drivers, according to new AAA survey

By on Friday, January 5th, 2024 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

PORTLAND — New research confirms what you already may have suspected: drivers are getting worse.

A new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that nearly 60% of drivers admit to risky driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving.

The survey, titled Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI) identified six types of drivers through the analysis of risky driving behaviors. Speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving were the most common dangerous behaviors. Only 40% of those surveyed met the “Safe Driver” category requirements.

“Despite acknowledging the dangers, some drivers continue to engage in potentially deadly behaviors, particularly speeding,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety President and Executive Director. “Understanding the different types of risky driving behaviors and the characteristics of drivers who engage in them is crucial for developing targeted interventions to achieve safe mobility.”

Data obtained from the report showed fewer drivers view speeding as dangerous, and speeding has the “lowest perceived social disapproval of all the examined unsafe driving behaviors,” the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said.

The following six driver profiles were identified by the Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI):

  • Safe Drivers (41.2%) – Few in this group reported engaging in any risky driving-related behaviors, and more women (57%) composed the Safe Drivers group.
  • Speeding Drivers (22.7%) – These drivers reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on freeways and/or 10 mph over on residential streets but did not engage in most other dangerous behaviors.
  • Distracted and Aggressive Drivers (17.3%) – Reported distracted driving behaviors (texting while driving), speeding, and aggressive behaviors, such as red-light running and switching lanes quickly.
  • Distracted Drivers (15.0%) – These drivers reported distracted driving behaviors such as reading text messages and texting while driving.
  • Most Dangerous Drivers (2.4%) – While these drivers consisted of only a small percentage of the drivers, they pose a serious risk to themselves and other road users as they reported engaging in all risky driving-related behaviors.
  • Impaired Drivers (1.3%) – Most live in non-metropolitan areas. Interestingly, drivers with a 4-year college degree were far less likely to report driving while impaired. At the same time, the most “over-represented” group consisted of those with some college or an associate degree.

Crash rates on the rise in the U.S. and Oregon

The number of fatal car crashes has risen over the last several years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 42,795 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2022, about the same as the 42,939 fatalities in 2021 which was the largest number of fatalities since 2005. In 2020, there were 39,007 fatalities.

According to NHTSA, dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, impairment, red-light running, texting and not using seatbelts account for a considerable proportion of the increased fatalities.

In Oregon, 601 people died in crashes in 2022, according to data from the Oregon Crash Analysis & Reporting Unit, compared to 599 people in 2021 and 507 people in 2020. For 2023, the Oregon year-to-date fatalities as of November 16 are 498. Find more information at the ODOT Crash Statistics & Reports website.