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Distracted drivers are threatening traffic safety

Indiana residents may be interested to hear that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued its 10th annual report on traffic safety culture last month. Its survey of licensed drivers last fall was unsettling, because it showed the prevalence of unsafe behavior, such as distracted driving, and its potential to increase the risk of car accidents in Indiana and throughout this country.

Over one in five drivers reported that they were involved in a major car crash where someone went to the hospital. Additionally, 11.1 percent of these respondents were seriously injured in a car accident. Almost one in three motorists also said that they had a relative who was killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident.

The dangers posed by a distracted driver was a bigger problem than in previous years, according to 87.5 percent of drivers. Traffic congestion, aggressive drivers, drivers using drugs and drunk driving were the next serious concerns.

Distracted driving was prevalent. In the previous month, 60.5 percent of drivers spoke on a hands-free cellphone and 49.1 percent of motorists talked on a hand-held cellphone. During that time, 44.9 percent of motorists read a text or email while they were driving, and 34.6 percent of drivers typed or sent an email. Only 40.9 percent of drivers support any prohibition on using any type of cellphone while driving.

The report also revealed other aggressive driving behaviors. At least 42.2 percent of motorists admitted that they drove through a stoplight when they could have safely stopped. Half of the drivers said they drove 15 mph over the posted limit on highways while 47.6 percent admitted to driving 10 mph over the limit on a residential street.

Approximately 30.8 percent of motorists admitted to drowsy driving because they drove when they were so fatigued that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open at least once during the month. Additionally, 42.4 percent said that they drove at least one day when they had less than six hours of sleep.

Impaired driving was also highlighted. In the survey, 13.5 percent of motorists admitted that they drove when they believed that their alcohol levels exceeded or came close to the legal limit.

Victims of this unsafe and aggressive driving may want to seek compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. By pursuing a lawsuit, not only can a car accident victim seek the financial resources they need to recover from the crash, but they can also hold the responsible party accountable.

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, "Fact sheet/Traffic safety culture index," Accessed April 7, 2018

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