Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers

Hamilton, B.C.; Arnold, L.S.; Tefft, B.C.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Distracted driving remains a significant and high-profile traffic safety concern with cell phone use and text messaging among its most visible manifestations. Due to the level of risk posed by distracted driving, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted this research to expand knowledge and promote safe road user habits in the United States. Data for this study were collected as part of the AAA Foundation’s 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index. This web-based survey was completed by 3,896 participants aged 16 years and older. The survey asked licensed drivers a variety of questions regarding distracted driving, including questions assessing attitudes and behaviors.

Results indicated that distracted driving remains a concern for licensed drivers, as 88.5% of survey participants believed that drivers talking on cell phones was a “somewhat” or “very” serious threat to their personal safety. Furthermore, the majority of participants (90.3%) agreed that distracted drivers were a bigger problem today compared to three years ago. Results showed that the perceived acceptability of distracted driving behaviors varies with age. For example, 67.4% of drivers aged 16-24 years indicated that using a hands-free device while driving was acceptable, whereas 63.7% of drivers aged 75 years and older indicated this behavior was unacceptable. The conclusion from the study was the use of hands-free devices continues to receive more approval from the public than other behaviors do, and this may be due in part to a perception that such technologies are less distracting behind the wheel.

Hamilton, B. C., Arnold, L. S., & Tefft, B. C. (2013). Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.