This report presents the results of our annual Traffic Safety Culture Index survey, providing data on the attitudes and behaviors of the American public with respect to key traffic safety topics.
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In the quarter century from 1988 through 2012, the lives of 1,018,581 men, women, and children have ended violently as the result of motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children, teens, and young adults up to age 34, and the leading cause for people ages 15-24. Statistics from the United States Department of Transportation indicate that 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. This represents an increase of 3.3 percent from 2011 and the first increase in fatalities since 2005. It also represents an average of 92 lives needlessly cut short on an average day as the result of crashes on our roads.
Since 2006, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been sponsoring research to better understand traffic safety culture. The Foundation’s long-term term vision is to create a “social climate in which traffic safety is highly valued and rigorously pursued.” In 2008, the AAA Foundation conducted the first Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally representative survey, to begin to assess a few key indicators of the degree to which traffic safety is valued and is being pursued. In 2013, the Foundation released the Temporal Trends in Indicators of Traffic Safety Culture among Drivers in the United States, 2009- 2012, an examination of changes in our survey results over time. The perceived threat of multiple risky driving behaviors have decreased in recent years, changes in public acceptance of such behaviors have been mixed, and the prevalence of self-reported dangerous driving behaviors has changed little since 2009.
As in previous years, this sixth annual Traffic Safety Culture Index finds that Americans do value safe travel and desire a greater level of safety than they now experience. They perceive unsafe driver behaviors such as speeding and drinking and driving as serious threats to their personal safety and generally support laws that would improve traffic safety by restricting driver behavior, even when such laws would restrict behaviors they admit to engaging in themselves.
As in previous years, the survey also highlights some aspects of the current traffic safety culture that might be characterized most appropriately as a culture of indifference, in which drivers effectively demonstrate a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude. For example, substantial numbers of drivers say that it is completely unacceptable to drive 15 mph over the speed limit on freeways, yet admit having done that in the past month.
This report presents the results of the AAA Foundation’s sixth annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, conducted from September 18 through October 3, 2013 by GfK for the AAA Foundation, with a sample of 3,103 U.S. residents ages 16 and older using a web-enabled probability-based panel representative of the United States population.
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