This study examines the prevalence of self-reported risky driving behaviors of drivers who increased their driving during the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with those who reduced or did not change how much they drove.
The number and rate of traffic fatalities in the United States increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a large reduction in the total number of miles driven on U.S. roads. Increases in crashes involving driver impairment, speeding, and seatbelt non-use have been reported; however, the reasons why such risky driving behaviors and negative traffic safety outcomes increased during the pandemic are not well understood. This study examined data from the AAA Foundation’s 2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index survey to investigate the relationship between respondents’ self-reported risky driving behaviors and changes in how much they drove during the first several months of the pandemic.
The current study examined the association of the frequency of engagement in self-reported risky driving behaviors within the past 30 days and changes in frequency of driving due to the COVID-19 pandemic among a sample of U.S. drivers aged 16 years and older who participated in the AAA Foundation’s 2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index survey. Data were collected between October 23 and November 23, 2020, from a sample of 2,888 licensed drivers who reported having driven in the past 30 days.
Participants were asked whether they reduced, increased, or did not change how much they drove due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were also asked to report how often they engaged in a variety of risky driving behaviors during the 30 days before the survey. The demographic characteristics and self-reported driving behaviors of drivers who reported that they increased or reduced their driving due to the pandemic were compared to those who reported that they did not change how much they drove. Multivariable models were used to examine differences in behaviors after adjusting for demographic characteristics and frequency of driving.