Biggest Danger on Illinois Roads? Distracted Drivers
If you've found yourself yelling "Put down the !#@$% phone and drive!" somewhat frequently on Rockford's streets and/or Illinois roads, you are not alone.
According to a new study released by AAA Chicago, distracted driving takes the number-one spot in a drivers list of dangers on the road.
AAA's survey, the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, topping other risky behaviors like:
- Aggressive driving: 68 percent
- Drivers using drugs: 55 percent
- Drunk driving: 43 percent
And, even with all of the public service announcements (along with it being illegal), the proportion of drivers who report talking on a cell phone regularly or fairly often when behind the wheel jumped 46 percent since 2013. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. Despite their behavior, nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger.
So, in other words, it's cool when I do it, but not cool at all when you do.
Drivers in the AAA survey believe the problem of distracted driving has increased over the past three years, with nearly 50 percent reporting that they regularly see drivers emailing or texting while driving. However, federal estimates show the number of distracted driving crashes has actually dropped two percent. This may be due to the fact that it is difficult to detect distraction following a crash which makes distracted driving one of the most under-reported traffic safety issues. According to government estimates, distraction plays a factor in just 14 percent of all crashes.
In contrast, past AAA Foundation research looking into teen drivers, used in-vehicle dash-cam videos to determine that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of crashes, 44 percent more than federal estimates.