Anxious to arrive quickly at your destination this holiday season? Well, what about safely? Driving faster than surrounding traffic, driving while drowsy, not paying attention and aggressive driving are associated with increased risk of being involved in crashes, according to a recent study sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA estimates that you will be sharing the road with 51 million people between Christmas and New Years, so it is essential to know how to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a crash.
In fact, the AAA Foundation's research found four driving behaviors directly associated with an increased crash risk.
Speeding was found to nearly triple the odds of being involved in a crash. Driving while drowsy was associated with a similar increase in the odds of being involved in a crash. When a driver's eyes were off the road for more than two seconds, for any reason, the odds of a crash occurring were nearly double those of a driver paying attention to the road. The odds of a crash more than doubled when a driver exhibited aggressive driving behaviors.
"Unfortunately, many drivers choose to drive and behave in ways that increase their risk of crashing," said Jack Peet, Community Safety Services manager for AAA Michigan. "It is our desire to reduce the number of crashes this holiday season by educating all drivers about specific behaviors that increase their crash risk. Although you may have driven too fast or while fatigued in the past and haven't crashed yet, these risks are real and thus will eventually catch up with you if you continue to drive in this manner."
Peet added that, although drunk driving was not a focus of the Foundation study, it continues to contribute to unnecessary deaths and injuries, especially during the holiday season.
The data used for the analyses in this report were collected during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). The 100-Car Study collected naturalistic, continuous, real-time data over a 12- to 13-month period from a sample of 109 primary drivers and 132 secondary drivers in the Northern Virginia/ Washington, DC area. Video and electronic sensors in the vehicles allowed researchers to detect data on several driving behaviors (e.g., speeding, safety belt use, and so forth). The AAA Foundation funded a study through VTTI with Sheila G. Klauer, Jeremy Sudweeks, Jeffrey S. Hickman and Vicki L. Neale to conduct the analysis to understand more about the relative risks associated with driving behaviors known to be dangerous from previous studies.
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501 (c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation's mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. The report "How Risky Is It? An assessment of the relative risk of engaging in potentially unsafe driving behaviors," is available online at www.aaafoundation.org.