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Motorists continue unacceptable behavior

Education has not been powerful enough to stop driving behaviors leading to car accidents such as texting and driving, impaired and drowsy driving and aggressive driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's Culture Index. In 2016, the AAA, for the ninth straight year, surveyed a sampling of drivers who drove at least once within the 30 days before they completed the survey. These drivers reportedly reflected the makeup of the national population.

Among the significant results, one in nine drivers were seriously injured in a car accident while 20 percent were involved in a serious crash in 2016. Almost a third of drivers had a friend or relative killed or seriously injured in an accident.

Concerning distracted driving, the survey found that 40.2 percent of motorists admitted to reading a text or email while driving and almost a third typed one of these messages. However, over 80 percent of these drivers said that texting or emailing while driving is a serious safety threat, and 78.2 percent said that this behavior was completely unacceptable.

Distracted driving is also more prevalent for motorists between 19 and 24 years old. They were more likely to read or type text messages while driving. These drivers also found texting and driving more acceptable and were more likely to oppose laws intended to discourage distracted driving.

In 2016, 4.9 percent of drivers admitted that they drove within one hour of using marijuana and 2.5 percent said that they drove within an hour of using marijuana and alcohol together. Although 47.9 percent of motorists said that fatigued driving was a serious threat and 80 percent found that it was completely unacceptable, 28.9 of motorists admitted that they drove even though they were so tired they could not keep their eyes open.

Over one-third of drivers engaged in aggressive driving by running through a red light even though they had time to stop. Almost half of all drivers, approximately 46 percent, drove over 10 mph above the speed limit in a residential neighborhood.

Reckless driving habits can cause serious injury and even death. Victims of careless drivers in New Mexico and their families should seek legal assistance to help assure that their rights are protected in a lawsuit or settlement negotiations.

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, "2016 traffic safety culture index/fact sheet," accessed Feb. 18, 2017

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