Posts Tagged ‘Distracted Driving’

Michael Green Contact TileNew AAA Foundation Research Finds Culture of Indifference despite High Death Toll

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2016) – About 87 percent of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the past month, according to latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These unsafe behaviors include driving while distracted, impaired, drowsy, speeding, running red lights or not wearing a seat belt. These disturbing results come as nearly 33,000 Americans died in car crashes in 2014, and preliminary estimates project a nine percent increase in deaths for 2015.

“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, though most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel. We’re asking every driver to make responsible decisions to make the roads safer for everyone.”

The report finds that 1 in 3 drivers have had a friend or relative seriously injured or killed in a crash, and 1 in 5 have been involved in a crash that was serious enough for someone to go to the hospital. Common unsafe behaviors include:

Distracted Driving

  • More than 2 in 3 drivers (70 percent) report talking on a cell phone while driving within the past 30 days. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (31 percent) report doing this fairly often or regularly.
  • More than 2 in 5 drivers (42 percent) admit to reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days, while 12 percent report doing this fairly often or regularly. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) admit to typing or sending a text or email over the past month, while eight percent say they do so fairly often or regularly.
  • Over 80 percent of drivers view distracted driving as a bigger problem than three years ago.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that distracted driving is a factor in at least 3,000 deaths per year, though the actual number is likely much higher. Drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds can double their risk of being in a crash.

Speeding

  • Nearly half of all drivers (48 percent) report going 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway in the past month, while 15 percent admit doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • About 45 percent of drivers report going 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street in the past 30 days, and 11 percent admit doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that speed plays a factor in nearly 10,000 deaths per year. Drivers are more likely to be seriously injured or killed at higher speeds, and speeding increases the risk of being in a crash because there is less time and distance available to respond.

Drowsy Driving

  • Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) say they have driven when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open in the past 30 days. More than 1 in 5 (22 percent) admitted doing this more than once during that time.
  • Previous research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.

Red-light Running

  • More than 1 in 3 drivers (39 percent) admit to having driven through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely during the past 30 days. About 1 in 4 drivers (26 percent) reported doing this more than once during that time.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that 697 people were killed and 127,000 were injured in crashes that involved red-light running in 2013.

Seatbelt Use

  • Nearly 1 in 5 drivers (18 percent) report driving without a seatbelt within the past 30 days, and more than 1 in 7 (15 percent) admit to doing this more than once.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that nearly half of all vehicle occupants who died in a crash in 2013 were unrestrained at the time of the crash. Seatbelts can reduce the risk of fatal injury by more than 45 percent.

Impaired Driving

  • More than 1 in 8 motorists (13 percent) report driving when their alcohol level might have been near or over the legal limit within the past 12 months. About nine percent of drivers report doing this more than once over the past year.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that there are nearly 10,000 deaths a year from crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher, and impaired-driving crashes cost the country more than $50 billion per year.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,442 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA’s Driver Improvement Program, available both online and in classroom settings, helps drivers improve their skills and habits, teaching how they can reduce not only their own risk, but the risk of their passengers as well. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Michael Green Contact TileSurprising Research Finds that Mental Distractions Can Persist Long after Completing a Task

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 22, 2015) – Potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands, according to surprising new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The results raise new and unexpected concerns regarding the use of phones and vehicle information systems while driving. This research represents the third phase of the Foundation’s comprehensive investigation into cognitive distraction, which shows that new hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel.

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“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”

Researchers found that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction can last for as long as 27 seconds after completing a distracting task in the worst-performing systems studied. At the 25 MPH speed limit in the study, drivers traveled the length of nearly three football fields during this time. When using the least distracting systems, drivers remained impaired for more than 15 seconds after completing a task.

“Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s President and CEO. “The reality is that mental distractions persist and can affect driver attention even after the light turns green.”

The researchers discovered the residual effects of mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smart phones. The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. The systems that performed best generally had fewer errors, required less time on task and were relatively easy to use.

Phase-III-Rankings-Chart

The researchers rated mental distraction on a five-point scale. Category one represents a mild level of distraction and category five represents the maximum.  AAA considers a mental distraction rating of two and higher to be potentially dangerous while driving.

The best performing system was the Chevy Equinox with a cognitive distraction rating of 2.4, while the worst performing system was the Mazda 6 with a cognitive distraction rating of 4.6. Among phone systems, Google Now performed best with a distraction rating of 3.0, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana earned ratings of 3.4 and 3.8. Using the phones to send texts significantly increased the level of mental distraction. While sending voice-activated texts, Google Now rated as a category 3.3 distraction, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana rated as category 3.7 and category 4.1 distractions.

“The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers,” continued Doney. “We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free.”

Previous AAA Foundation research established that a category 1 mental distraction is about the same as listening to the radio or an audio book. A category 2 distraction is about the same as talking on the phone, while category 3 is equivalent to sending voice-activated texts on a perfect, error-free system. Category 4 is similar to updating social media while driving, while category 5 corresponds to a highly-challenging, scientific test designed to overload a driver’s attention.
“Developers should aim to reduce mental distractions by designing systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook,” continued Doney. “Given that the impairing effects of distraction may last much longer than people realize, AAA advises consumers to use caution when interacting with these technologies while behind the wheel.”

Select b-roll video of the research is available to download and for news media purposes. The previous findings from Phase I and Phase II of the Foundation’s research into cognitive distraction also are available.

Dr. David Strayer and Dr. Joel Cooper of the University of Utah conducted the research. A total of 257 drivers ages 21-70 participated in the study of 2015 model-year vehicles, while 65 additional drivers ages 21-68 tested the three phone systems.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Michael Green Contact TileUnprecedented Look into the Causes of Teen Crashes by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 25, 2015) – The most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers has found significant evidence that distracted driving is likely much more serious a problem than previously known, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The unprecedented video analysis finds that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes, which is four times as many as official estimates based on police reports.

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Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied, including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. NHTSA previously has estimated that distraction is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes.

“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”

The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:

  • Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
  • Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes

“It is troubling that passengers and cell phones were the most common forms of distraction given that these factors can increase crash risks for teen drivers,” said AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet. “The situation is made worse by the fact that young drivers have spent less time behind the wheel and cannot draw upon their previous experience to manage unsafe conditions.”

Researchers found that drivers manipulating their cell phone (includes calling, texting or other uses), had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning  they crashed without braking or steering.

“This study shows how important it is for states to review their graduated driver licensing and distracted driving laws to ensure they provide as much protection as possible for teens,” continued Darbelnet. “AAA recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers and restrict passengers to one non-family member for the first six months of driving.”

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws allow new drivers to gain practical experience in a relatively safe environment by restricting their exposure to risky situations. Thirty-three states have laws that prevent cell phone use for teens and 18 states have passenger restrictions meeting AAA’s recommendations.

Parents play a critical role in preventing distracted driving. AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use and restrict passengers during the learning-to-drive process.  Before parents begin practice driving with teens, they should create a parent-teen driving agreement that includes strict ground rules related to distraction. AAA offers a comprehensive driver education program, where teens can learn specifically how using a cell phone affects driving abilities and increases their crash risk. For more information, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.​

Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. About 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, which is the most recent year of available data. These crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

The full research report and b-roll video of teen driver crashes is available on the Foundation’s website. The Foundation partnered with researchers at the University of Iowa to conduct this study.

Lytx™, Inc., a global leader in video-based driver safety technology using in-vehicle event recorders, provided the collision videos. The Lytx DriveCam program collects video, audio and accelerometer data when a driver triggers an in-vehicle device by hard braking, fast cornering or an impact that exceeds a certain g-force. Each video is 12-seconds long and provides information from before and after the trigger. The videos are used in the DriveCam Program for coaching drivers to improve behavior and reduce collisions.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Nancy WhiteAAA Urges Manufacturers to Focus on Accuracy and Usability to Reduce Cognitive Distraction

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 7, 2014) – With three out of four drivers believing that hands-free technology is safe to use, Americans may be surprised to learn that these popular new vehicle features may actually increase mental distraction, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This research can serve as guidance to manufacturers who increasingly market hands-free systems as safety features. The good news for consumers is that it is possible to design hands-free technologies that are less cognitively distracting, according to the research.

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The results, which build on the first phase of the Foundation’s research conducted last year, suggest that developers can improve the safety of their products by making them less complicated, more accurate and generally easier to use – a point AAA hopes to use in working with manufacturers to make hands-free technologies as safe as possible for consumers. While manufacturers continue their efforts to develop and refine systems that reduce distractions, AAA encourages drivers to minimize cognitive distraction by limiting the use of most voice-based technologies.

“We already know that drivers can miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies because their minds are not fully focused on the road ahead,” said Bob Darbelnet, chief executive officer of AAA. “We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.”

Using instrumented test vehicles, heart-rate monitors and other equipment designed to measure reaction times, Dr. David Strayer and researchers from the University of Utah evaluated and ranked common voice-activated interactions based on the level of cognitive distraction generated. The team used a five-category rating system, which they created in 2013, similar to that used for hurricanes. The results show:

      • The accuracy of voice recognition software significantly influences the rate of distraction. Systems with low accuracy and reliability generated a high level (category 3) of distraction.
      • Composing text messages and emails using in-vehicle technologies (category 3) was more distracting than using these systems to listen to messages (category 2).
      • The quality of the systems’ voice had no impact on distraction levels – listening to a natural or synthetic voice both rated as a category 2 level of distraction.

The study also separately assessed Apple’s Siri (version iOS 7) using insight obtained from Apple about Siri’s functionality at the time the research was conducted.  Researchers used the same metrics to measure a broader range of tasks including using social media, sending texts and updating calendars. The research uncovered that hands- and eyes-free use of Apple’s Siri generated a relatively high category 4 level of mental distraction.  

To put all of this year’s findings in context, last year’s research revealed that listening to the radio rated as a category 1 distraction; talking on a hand-held or hands-free cell phone resulted in a category 2 distraction; and using an error-free speech-to-text system to listen to and compose emails or texts was a category 3 distraction.

“Technologies used in the car that rely on voice communications may have unintended consequences that adversely affect road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The level of distraction and the impact on safety can vary tremendously based on the task or the system the driver is using.”

To assess “real-world” impact, Dr. Joel Cooper with Precision Driving Research evaluated the two most common voice-based interactions in which drivers engage – changing radio stations and voice dialing – with the actual voice-activated systems found in six different automakers’ vehicles. On the five point scale, Toyota’s Entune® system garnered the lowest cognitive distraction ranking (at 1.7), which is similar to listening to an audio book. In comparison, the Chevrolet MyLink® resulted in a high level of cognitive distraction (rating of 3.7). Other systems tested included the Hyundai Blue Link (rating 2.2), the Chrysler Uconnect™ (rating 2.7), Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch® (rating 3.0) and the Mercedes COMAND® (rating 3.1).

“It is clear that not all voice systems are created equal, and today’s imperfect systems can lead to driver distraction,” continued Darbelnet. “AAA is confident that it will be possible to make safer systems in the future.”

This phase of the research highlights the variability in demands across all the systems tested.

AAA is calling for developers to address key contributing factors to mental distraction including complexity, accuracy and time on task with the goal of making systems that are no more demanding than listening to the radio or an audiobook. AAA also plans to use the findings to continue a dialogue with policy makers, safety advocates and manufacturers.

To view the full report, “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle II: Assessing In-Vehicle Voice-based Interactive Technologies,” and other materials on distracted driving, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com. This study builds upon groundbreaking research conducted last year, which found that drivers can be dangerously distracted even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. AAA promoted the study in the release:  Think You Know All About Distracted Driving? Think Again, Says AAA.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Michael GreenMore than Two Out of Three Drivers Use Cell Phone Despite Crash Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2013) – High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.

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“It’s noteworthy that the young novice drivers are using their phones while driving less than older drivers since, given their inexperience, they are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “At the same time, it is discouraging that cell phone usage picks up when drivers gain more experience, as using a phone can lead to dangerous distractions behind the wheel.”

Two out of three drivers reported using a cell while driving within the past month. Forty-three percent of adults ages 25-39 reported doing so fairly often or regularly while driving, compared to only 20 percent of teens.  Motorists age 60 and up were the least likely to report using a phone.

Age

Reported Using Phone

While Driving

Reported Using Phone

Fairly Often / Regularly While Driving

16-18

58 percent

20 percent

19-24

72 percent

27 percent

25-39

82 percent

43 percent

40-59

72 percent

30 percent

60-74

51 percent

15 percent

75+

31 percent

7 percent

Total

67 percent

28 percent

“Using your phone while driving may seem safe, but it roughly quadruples your risk of being in a crash according to previous research,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “None of us is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. The best advice is to hang up and drive.”

More than one-in-four motorists reported sending a text or email while driving within the past month. Adults ages 25-39 reported texting and driving most frequently, while those age 60 and up reported doing it the least.

Age

Reporting Sending Text or Email

While Driving

Reported Sending Text or Email

Fairly Often / Regularly While Driving

16-18

31 percent

7 percent

19-24

42 percent

11 percent

25-39

45 percent

10 percent

40-59

24 percent

4 percent

60-74

7 percent

2 percent

75+

1 percent

1 percent

Total

26 percent

6 percent

Nearly nine-in-ten (88 percent) motorists believe distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago. About 89 percent believe that other drivers talking on a cell phone while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety, while nearly all (96 percent) believe that others texting or emailing while behind the wheel is a serious threat.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every ten fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, although experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated. Previous research shows that hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones – hands-free is not risk-free.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety collected the data as part of the 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index. The data are from a sample of 2,325 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving in the past 30 days.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Nancy White

Originally released June 12, 2013

New research reveals that voice-activated in-car technologies dangerously undermine driver attention

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WASHINGTON, D.C., – Hands-free technologies might make it easier for motorists to text, talk on the phone, or even use Facebook while they drive, but new findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.  The research found that as mental workload and distractions increase reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians. This is the most comprehensive study of its kind to look at the mental distraction of drivers and arms AAA with evidence to appeal to the public to not use these voice-to-text features while their vehicle is in motion.

With a predicted five-fold increase in infotainment systems in new vehicles by 2018, AAA is calling for action as result of this landmark research. “There is a looming public safety crisis ahead with the future proliferation of these in-vehicle technologies,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental  distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public misperception that hands-free means risk-free.”

Cognitive distraction expert Dr. David Strayer and his research team at the University of Utah measured brainwaves, eye movement and other metrics to assess what happens to drivers’ mental workload when they attempt to do multiple things at once, building upon decades of research in the aerospace and automotive industries. The research included:

  • Cameras mounted inside an instrumented car to track eye and head movement of drivers.
  • A Detection-Response-Task device known as the “DRT” was used to record driver reaction time in response to triggers of red and green lights added to their field of vision.
  • A special electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap was used to chart participants’ brain activity so that researchers could determine mental workload.

Using established research protocols borrowed from aviation psychology and a variety of performance metrics, drivers engaged in common tasks, from listening to an audio book or talking on the phone to listening and responding to voice-activated emails while behind the wheel. Researchers used the results to rate the levels of mental distraction drivers experienced while performing each of the tasks. Similar to the Saffir-Simpson scale used for hurricanes, the levels of mental distraction are represented on a scale:

  • Tasks such as listening to the radio ranked as a category “1” level of distraction or a minimal risk.
  • Talking on a cell-phone, both handheld and hands-free, resulted in a “2” or a moderate risk.
  • Listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features increased mental workload and distraction levels of the drivers to a “3” rating or one of extensive risk.

“These findings reinforce previous research that hands-free is not risk-free,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them.” Based on this research, AAA urges the automotive and electronics industries to join us in exploring:

  • Limiting use of voice-activated technology to core driving-related activities such as climate control, windshield wipers and cruise control, and to ensure these applications do not lead to increased safety risk due to mental distraction while the car is moving.
  • Disabling certain functionalities of voice-to-text technologies such as using social media or interacting with e-mail and text messages so that they are inoperable while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Educating vehicle owners and mobile device users about the responsible use and safety risks for in-vehicle technologies.

AAA also is using the findings to promote dialogue with policy makers, safety advocates and industry to ensure that these emerging in-vehicle technologies won’t lead to unintentional compromises in public safety.  As part of this effort, AAA has already met with safety advocates and provided copies of the report to CEOs of all major U.S. automakers.

“This study constitutes the most in-depth analysis to date of mental distractions behind the wheel.  AAA is hopeful that it will serve as a stepping stone toward working in collaboration with automakers to promote our shared goal of improving safety for all drivers,” said Darbelnet. “Specifically, these increasingly common voice-driven, in-vehicle technologies should be limited to use for just core driving tasks unless the activity results in no significant driver distraction.”

To view the full Cognitive Distraction in the Vehicle report, the AAA Foundation’s Research Compendium on Cognitive Distraction or AAA’s Distracted Driving Fact Sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

Ginnie PritchettORLANDO, Fla., (May 1, 2013) – As everyone searches for their biggest sombrero and makes plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, AAA strongly encourages to arrange a safe ride home before they partake in any festivities.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.  Once there, AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.

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While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs offer Tow-to-Go or Tipsy Tow service on select dates for members and nonmembers. This service is not available everywhere. AAA strongly encourages family and friends to pick a designated driver before they head out on Cinco de Mayo.

*Please note availability is subject to change without notice

The following AAA Clubs offer Tipsy Tow/ Tow to Go programs for Cinco de Mayo:

  • The Auto Club Group (Statewide in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Program is called “Tow-to-Go”)
  • AAA Arizona (statewide)
  • AAA New Jersey Automobile Club (Morris, Essex and Union counties/Program is offered year-round & called Safe Tow)

For a comprehensive list of other community programs listed state by state, please visit AAA’s DUI Justice Link Website

ORLANDO, Fla., (January 29, 2013) – As football fans across America head to Super Bowl festivities this weekend, AAA strongly encourages revelers to arrange a safe ride home before their teams hit the field.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.  Once there, AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.

While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs offer Tow-to-Go or Tipsy Tow service on select dates for members and nonmembers. This service is not available everywhere.

The following AAA Clubs offer Tipsy Tow programs for the Super Bowl Game this weekend (February 3):

  • AAA Arizona (Statewide)
  • The Auto Club Group (Statewide in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Program is called “Tow-to-Go”)
  • AAA New Jersey Automobile Club (Program is offered year-round & called Safe Tow)

For a comprehensive list of other community programs listed state by state, please visit AAA’s DUI Justice Link Website.

Study Shows that “Do As I Say, Not as I Do” Attitude Prevails Among Nation’s Drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C., (January 25, 2013) – Motorists who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors such as speeding, driving drowsy, driving without a seatbelt and sending texts or emails, according to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Additionally, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the last month despite the fact that nearly nine-in-ten respondents (89 percent) believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety.

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“Ninety percent of respondents believe that distracted driving is a somewhat or much bigger problem today than it was three years ago, yet they themselves continue to engage in the same activities,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “More work clearly is needed to educate motorists on the risks associated with using a cell phone while driving, especially given that most Americans believe this problem is becoming worse.”

Motorists who fairly often or regularly used their cell phones over the last month also reported that they engaged in additional risky behaviors. The research shows:

  • 65 percent also reported speeding
  • 44 percent also reported driving while drowsy
  • 53 percent also reported sending a text or email
  • 29 percent also drove without a seatbelt

Conversely, drivers that reported never using a cell phone were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors:

  • 31 percent reported speeding
  • 14 percent reported driving drowsy
  • 3 percent reported sending a text or email
  • 16 percent drove without a seatbelt

Despite the near-universal disapproval of texting and emailing while driving (95 percent), more than one-in-four licensed drivers (27 percent) reported sending a text or email at least once in the past 30 days, and more than one-third (35 percent) said they read a text or email while driving. Young drivers age 16-24 were even more likely with more than half (61 percent) reporting having read a text or email while driving in the past month, while more than one-in-four (26 percent) reported checking or updating social media while driving.

“What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cell phone use,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs. “These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities.”

Driver use of cell phones impairs reaction times and roughly quadruples crash risk. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 3,000 people are killed and nearly half a million are injured each year in crashes involving distraction. This is likely an underestimate given the challenges associated with determining the role of distraction in crashes.

AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have long been leading advocates in educating motorists about the risks of distracted driving. AAA recommends that motorists turn off their phone before driving or pull over to a safe place to talk, send texts or use email. AAA also has launched a legislative campaign to advocate for a text messaging ban in all 50 states. To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this key traffic safety measure and AAA expects all 11 remaining states to consider this legislation in 2013.

The distraction data were collected as part of the AAA Foundation’s 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally representative, probability-based survey of 3,896 U.S. residents ages 16 and older. The sample is representative of all U.S. households reachable by telephone or by regular mail. The questionnaire was made available in English and Spanish, and respondents were able to complete it in the language of their choice. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides additional details in the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index and as part of a report called Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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. Visit www.aaafoundation.org or www.facebook.com/AAAFTS for more information on how you can join our cause.

New Federal Incentive Money Might Spur States to Action

WASHINGTON, D.C., (January 11, 2013) – New incentive funds from Congress could spur state legislatures to pass lifesaving safety improvements in their upcoming 2013 sessions, according to AAA.  Federal incentives for laws that ban texting while driving, improve teen driver safety and require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers align with AAA’s nationwide legislative agenda to improve highway safety and could help combat a recent uptick in highway deaths.

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“The promise of federal dollars might encourage additional states to pass needed safety improvements,” said AAA Vice President of Public Affairs Kathleen Bower. “The recent federal estimate that traffic deaths increased during the first nine months of 2012 is a reminder that safety gains are not inevitable and that continued legislative action is necessary to help reduce fatal crashes.”

The recent passage of MAP 21, the federal transportation authorization law, provides an average of $500 million annually in incentive funding for states that address many of these safety improvements.

“Progress slowed on many fronts for traffic safety advocates last year, but AAA has hope for improvements in 2013,” continued Bower. “Between the heavy toll of highway deaths and the availability of new federal funds, state policymakers have many reasons to act on road safety this year.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in December released estimates that traffic deaths increased by 7.1 percent in the first nine months of 2012 versus the same period the previous year. The estimated rate of deaths also increased, from 1.09 to 1.16 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

AAA’s top safety priorities in the states for 2013 include:

  • Distracted driving: AAA in 2009 launched a national campaign to ban text messaging while driving in all 50 states. Thirty-nine states now have laws that prohibit drivers from texting and AAA expects all 11 remaining states to consider this legislation in 2013.  Distracted driving remains a significant contributor to traffic deaths.  According to NHTSA, nine percent of fatal crashes and 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 involved some form of distraction.
  • Teen driver safety: Graduated driver licensing (GDL) is one of the most effective means of reducing teen driving deaths. While every state has some form of GDL, nearly every state also has room for further improvements. Only six states (Del., Ind., Mich., N.Y., Okla. and W.Va.) have GDL systems that meet AAA’s guidelines for nighttime limits, passenger limits and practice requirements. AAA will also encourage states to strengthen license requirements and ban the use of wireless communications devices for novice drivers. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens, accounting for almost one in three fatalities in this age group. Safety experts credit GDL laws for much of the 57 percent decline in traffic fatalities for 16- and 17-year-old drivers between 1995 and 2010.
  • Booster seat laws: Despite a proven ability to reduce injuries and deaths for child passengers by 45 percent, child passenger safety laws in 19 states fall short of safety experts’ guidelines recommending that all children under age eight remain in either a car or booster seat. Fla. and S.D. still do not have booster seat requirements.  Research also shows that children ages four to eight who live in states with booster seat laws are 39 percent more likely to be appropriately restrained than children in states without such laws.
  • Primary seat belt laws: AAA and other safety advocates will continue to work to change laws in the remaining 18 states without a primary belt law, increase fines in states with weak penalties and expand seat belt requirements to include backseat passengers in remaining states. Primary seat belt laws have repeatedly been shown as a low-cost way for states to quickly increase belt use, reduce traffic deaths and lower the cost of crashes. When lap/shoulder belts are used, the risk of injury to the front-seat occupants is reduced by 45 percent and states passing primary-enforcement seat belt laws should expect to see belt usage increase 10-13 percent.
  • Ignition interlocks: Only 17 states and four California counties require ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers. AAA is calling on the other 33 states to step up for safety and require ignition interlocks for all offenders. Research has identified the life-saving benefit of ignition interlocks, which are more effective than other methods at reducing repeat offenses among convicted drunk drivers while they are installed.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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