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Do as I say…

Driving is one of those fascinating examples of human nature, where even though a motorist may be reasonably well acquainted with the risks of certain behavior, many of them still engage in just such behavior.

The AAA Foundation surveys American drivers every year to obtain a snapshot of their views and behavior towards driving. As one of their representative’s notes, the result is “disappointing.” Many dangerous behaviors behind the wheel continue to be popular with drivers, despite the fact that many drivers condemn the very same behavior.

Many drivers run red lights, speed and text, while at the same time, describe the activity as “completely unacceptable.” How does one explain that 27 percent of drivers admit to sending a text and 84 percent of those drivers also say that is “completely unacceptable?”

And these dangerous behaviors continue even though almost half of drivers know of friends or family who have been involved in serious or deadly car accidents.

These findings, combined with the research that indicates an activity like texting is addictive, suggest that mere awareness campaigns may not be effective at stopping distracted driving caused by cellphone use.

It is likely that intervention on the part of phone or auto manufacturers will be necessary, with systems that make such activity as receiving a text or reading an email completely impossible.

Such apps are available, but require intervention to turn them on. This means drivers have discretion. Survey results like this one suggest that will never be effective. Because so many use the GPS feature on a phone while driving to navigate, the obvious solution of suggesting simply turning off the phone is unlikely to be widely adopted.

Heraldonline.com, “Crashes Touch One in Three but Drivers Continue to Take Risks,” AAA Foundation, February 10, 2015 

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