(LOS ANGELES, April 29, 2008) - The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety today released its first-ever Traffic Safety Culture Index, which shows that a large percentage of motorists engage in unsafe driving behavior while still rating themselves as better drivers than most others on the road.
The index also revealed that the majority of Americans are unaware that vehicle crashes kill 40,000 people a year in the U.S. In California, crashes kill over 4,300 people annually and injure about 300,000.
To compile the 2008 index, the Foundation commissioned a telephone survey of more than 2,500 adults. The survey revealed that:
- More than half of motorists who agreed that distracted driving was a "serious problem" also admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving at least once in the past month.
- Fourteen percent of motorists who agreed that distracted driving was a "serious problem" admitted that they had read or sent a text message while driving.
- Nine percent of motorists said that they had driven at least once in the past month when they thought their blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit.
"In the 1980s and 1990s, California saw a sharp decrease in the numbers of fatal and injury crashes both because of vehicle safety improvements and community-based efforts to reduce drinking and driving," said Alice Bisno, vice president for public affairs for the Automobile Club of Southern California. "But beginning in 1999, the number of crash fatalities began rising again statewide, along with the numbers of DUI crashes.
"The AAA Foundation's Traffic Safety Culture Index dramatically illustrates the need for changes in public attitudes and behaviors behind the wheel," Bisno added.