Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

New research shows crash-involved drivers admit to risky driving behaviors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 11, 2020) – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest research finds drivers who have been in at least one crash in the past two years are significantly more likely to engage in risky behaviors like speeding or texting, even when they think the police may catch them. After three months of staying at home, AAA urges drivers to keep everyone safe on the roads and warns motorists against falling back into dangerous driving habits.

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“The frequency of drivers in the United States engaging in improper behavior is too high. While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel – like texting, are dangerous, some do them anyway,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “We need to be aware of the serious consequences of engaging in these types of dangerous driving behavior and change course.”

The Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI), which highlights the gap between drivers’ attitudes and their reported behaviors, found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive and impaired driving as dangerous. Yet many of them admit to engaging in at least one of these exact behaviors in the 30 days before the survey. The numbers were even higher for those involved in a recent crash:   

  • 50% of those involved in a recent crash admit to talking on a hand-held device while driving in the past month vs. 42% not involved in a crash
  • 43% of those involved in a recent crash admit to texting while driving in the past month vs. 27% not involved in a crash
  • 39% of those involved in a recent crash admit to running a red light in the past month vs. 30% not involved in a crash

This data shows that people are not altering their behavior even when it has resulted in a crash.

Of all dangerous driving tasks, drivers dubbed these two extremely or very dangerous:

  • Driving when so tired, it was hard to keep your eyes open (96%)
  • Driving while typing or sending a text message or an email (96%)

Yet these same drivers text when behind the wheel, even believing there is a risk of getting caught by police for reading (43.7%) or typing (42.7%) a text message.  

It’s not all bad news. When compared with 2018 findings, drivers reported they are engaging in some dangerous behaviors less frequently. Drivers who said talking on a hand-held cell phone saw the most significant decrease, down from 52.1% to 43.2%, while drowsy driving and texting both fell by 3 percentage points.

“If you point to the dangerous driving behaviors of others that you sometimes do yourself, then you are the problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “I’m encouraged to see a slight shift toward safer driving behaviors, but we have more work to do. Stay focused on driving. This is a must.”

AAA recommends these safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb.
  • Slow down. Drivers tend to overestimate time saved by speeding. You’d have to travel 100 miles to save roughly 5 minutes, moving at 75 mph instead of 70 mph. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost.
  • Stay alert. Stop driving if you become sleepy because you could fall asleep at any time. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment, and vision, causing people who are very tired to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.
  • Only drive sober. If you consume marijuana, alcohol, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive.  And if you’re going to drive, then don’t consume these substances. If you are taking prescription medications, visit Roadwise Rx to learn if they can impair driving.
  • And always wear your seat belt.

The annual TSCI identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,714 licensed drivers ages 16 or older who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey, which was administered between Sept. 6 and Oct. 8, 2019. The AAA Foundation issued its first TSCI in 2008, and the latest report is online: AAAFoundation.org

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research develops educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

New AAA data examines ten years of fatal teen crash rates during the summer

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WASHINGTON (May 27, 2020) – Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  That’s more than seven people a day each summer. The combination of schools closed, activities curtailed, summer jobs canceled, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, could prove deadly as teens take to the road this summer.  AAA recommends that now is a good time for parents to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too.

“The last decade of crash data show shows that teens continue to be over-represented in crashes and summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.”

Due to their inexperience, teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashes. According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72% of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:

  • Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
  • Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
  • Texting (35%)
  • Red-light running (32%)
  • Aggressive driving (31%)
  • Drowsy driving (25%)
  • Driving without a seatbelt (17%)

“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA’s Director of State Relations. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But actions speak louder than words.  Remember to model good behavior because your teen won’t take your advice seriously if you don’t follow it yourself.”

To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:

  • Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
  • Teach by example, and minimize risky behavior when driving.
  • Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
  • Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.

To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions during COVID-19 and beyond, AAA is providing a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on how to drive safely.  The “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for ParentsAAA ParentCoachingGuide 2020 offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including a variety of “DOs and DON’Ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible.  For parents, the guide can be beneficial as they coach their teens on a variety of routes, building on their formal behind-the-wheel training.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart Parent Session also offers excellent resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel, or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

New AAA report finds genders handle reductions in driving differently

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 18, 2020) – New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that as older adults reduce their driving, men report having fewer resources for making important life decisions. Compared to women, men over age 65 who have reduced their driving in the last year report lower levels of social support when it comes to advice, suggestions and information about issues they may be facing.  Because driving is closely tied to freedom and independence, AAA recommends families with older loved ones plan ahead together, especially when it comes to important decisions like limiting driving and putting reliable informational resources in place.

 “When it comes to older drivers, data from our study suggests there are perceived social support differences between older male and female drivers,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  “Men and women who have reduced their driving report similar levels of care and emotional support from friends and family, but older male drivers find it harder to seek out advice and guidance.”

Of the study’s 2,990 participants, 1 in 5 older drivers reported reducing their driving in the past year, with more women, 57%, than men, 43%, saying they had cut back on driving. The findings are part of the AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study, a multi-year research program to better understand and meet the safety and mobility needs of older drivers in the United States.

Past AAA Foundation research has found that many older adults limit their driving, or self-regulate, to daytime, short trips, or familiar locations due to health issues and it can lead to an overall decline in life satisfaction.

“Cutting back on driving may threaten older drivers’ sense of independence and may complicate their ability to run errands, keep medical appointments, or visit friends,” said AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy Project Manager Rhonda Shah.  “Just like planning for financial and healthcare needs in retirement, there are many benefits to planning ahead for the day when it makes sense to limit or stop driving.”

While self-regulation may seem like a good solution to allow older drivers to continue driving safely, some changes can create unintended consequences on the roadway. For example, using side streets to avoid the freeway can increase an older drivers’ risk of a crash by increasing the distance traveled and his/her exposure on the road.

AAA suggests older drivers and their families speak with their physicians in addition to exploring alternative forms of transportation and recognize that these options may complement their driving.  Transportation alternatives vary from city to city, so AAA suggests the following:

  • Carpooling – Sharing a ride with friends or neighbors is one way for older adults who limit driving.
  • Public Transportation – When available, city buses, light rail and subway systems are great ways to get around. By planning ahead, an older driver can build up a comfort level with public transportation services to prepare for a time when he or she may have to limit or stop driving.
  • Local Transportation Services – If the cost of a taxi or difficulty walking to a bus stop is an obstacle to using public transit, an older adult could benefit from using low-cost, community-based informal transportation services called supplemental transportation programs.
  • Ridesharing – If the older adult has a smartphone, they can download a rideshare app to help with local transportation.

 

Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older driver, especially a parent, is challenging for most people.  While there is no simple or easy way to address the subject, AAA is here to help. Visit seniordriving.aaa.com for some important tips.

About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, and innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand and meet the safety and mobility needs of older drivers in the United States. The AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is one of the largest and most comprehensive databases available on senior drivers incorporating 2,990 participants being followed for five years. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

The research was performed at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health with support from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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Percent of THC-positive drivers has doubled since recreational use was legalized

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 30, 2020) – A concerning number of Washington state drivers involved in fatal crashes are testing positive for recent use of marijuana, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

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The share of drivers who, after a fatal crash, tested positive for active THC – the drug’s main psychoactive ingredient – has doubled since the state legalized marijuana in December 2012. AAA believes the increase raises important traffic safety concerns for drivers across the country, because recreational marijuana use is now legal in 11 states and Washington, D.C.

The latest AAA Foundation research found that between 2008 and 2012 – the five-year period before the drug was legal – an estimated 8.8% of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC. That rate rose to 18% between 2013 and 2017.

The average number of THC-positive drivers increased, too. In the five years before legalization, an average of 56 drivers involved in fatal crashes each year were THC-positive. In the five years after legalization, the average jumped to 130. The new numbers bolster the findings of a similar report the AAA Foundation released in 2016. The study did not attempt to determine if marijuana contributed to the crashes included in its latest research. It focused only on the prevalence of drivers who tested positive for active THC.

“This study enabled us to review a full 10-years’ worth of data about the potential impact of marijuana on driving safety – and it raises significant concerns,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Results from the analysis suggest that legalization of recreational use of marijuana may increase the rate of THC-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes.”

Marijuana use can inhibit concentration, slow reaction times and cloud judgment. Its effects vary by individual, but a number of studies have concluded that marijuana use impairs the ability to drive safely. Previous research suggests that users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

AAA opposes the legalization of marijuana for recreational use because of its inherent traffic safety risks and because of the difficulties in writing legislation that protects the public and treats drivers fairly.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use. Another 22 states have legalized it for medical use only. State legislative sessions for 2020 are getting underway and recreational use is expected to be a popular topic. The legislative interest combined with likely November ballot measures could result in additional states taking a hard look at the issue.

In an attempt to curtail drug-impaired driving, seven states have set legal non-zero, or “per se,” limits on the amount of THC drivers can have in their system. While well-intended, AAA believes imposing such limits is problematic because no data reliably shows what level of THC impairs driving, the chemical’s effects vary by user, and THC testing often cannot be done until hours after a crash.

AAA believes that states that have legalized the drug should not rely solely on an arbitrary legal limit to determine if a driver is impaired. They should adopt a two-pronged approach that requires:

  1. a positive test for recent marijuana use
  2. behavioral and physiological evidence of driver impairment

Regardless of the drug’s legal status – and limits in any state – all motorists need to avoid driving while impaired.

“Simply put, if you’ve used marijuana, don’t drive,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “And if you plan to drive, don’t use marijuana.”

Last year, a Foundation survey found that nearly 70% of Americans think it’s unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving shortly after using marijuana. The survey also revealed that an estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

AAA is committed to educating the public about the risks of substance-impaired driving. Through AAA Foundation research, AAA is working to improve understanding on the topic and is working collaboratively with safety stakeholders to reduce the impact of substance-impaired driving related crashes.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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As drivers develop more experience and comfort using advanced driver assistance systems, they are also more likely to drive distracted while using the systems

WASHINGTON (Dec 17, 2019) – Drivers with experience using advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, were nearly twice as likely to engage in distracted driving while using the systems compared to when they were driving without the systems, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Alternatively, drivers with less experience and familiarity using the technology were less likely to drive while distracted with systems activated compared to when systems were not in use. AAA wants drivers to remember that while new driver assistance technologies offer important benefits, drivers must remain active and engaged when behind the wheel to maximize safety.

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“This new research suggests that as drivers gain more experience using ADAS technology, they could develop complacency while behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Over-reliance on these systems can put drivers and others in dangerous conditions during critical moments.”

Researchers at the AAA Foundation collaborated with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to analyze video of on-road behaviors for two groups of drivers using advanced driver assistance technology. Individuals in one group owned a vehicle equipped with ADAS and had more experience using the systems while drivers in the other group were given a vehicle equipped with ADAS to use during the 4-week study period and had less experience with the technology.

The research found that drivers who owned their vehicles – and therefore had more familiarity with ADAS technology — were more likely to drive distracted when these systems were active than when they were not. For example, some observed distracted driving behaviors included texting or adjusting the radio. Meanwhile, drivers with less experience using the technologies were more likely to remain attentive and engaged while the systems were engaged.

Virginia Tech researchers theorize that drivers move through different phases tied to experience using ADAS.  First timers start in a novelty phase where they learn and test the technology. These drivers are less inclined to trust the system’s function and reliability, so they remain active and engaged while driving. Eventually, drivers reach an experienced user phase where overreliance and too much trust in the systems becomes more common.  These drivers are more apt to take their eyes and attention away from the road. Research in other industries shows that pilots and nuclear technicians demonstrate similar patterns of over-reliance on automated systems. These behaviors can eventually lead to distraction.

“Advanced driver assistance technologies have a lot to offer in terms of comfort and safety, but they should never replace an attentive and engaged driver,” said Dr. William Van Tassel, AAA manager of driver training programs. “Remember, technology fails us daily while at work and at home. So, don’t get caught driving distracted when being focused on the road can save your life.”

AAA offers three simple steps for how to ACE your next vehicle rental or purchase:

  • Always remain active and engaged when using ADAS technologies like lane-keep assist or adaptive cruise control.
  • Commit to knowing what ADAS technologies are installed on your vehicle and how they work.
  • Expect that the advanced driver assistance technologies in your vehicle have limitations.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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Lack of comfort or confidence on the road can cause older adults to make unnecessary changes or reduce their driving

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 7, 2019) – Older adults with discomfort or low confidence while driving are adjusting their driving patterns to avoid driving at night, on the freeway, in afternoon rush hour traffic, or in unfamiliar areas, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Some of the self-regulated changes older drivers make can be unnecessary and do not always improve safety. In order to extend their mobility and reduce risk on the road, AAA recommends older drivers consult a healthcare professional when feelings of driving discomfort arise.

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“When older drivers become uncomfortable in certain driving situations, some may assume they have to live with the discomfort while others unnecessarily reduce their mobility,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “By addressing issues of discomfort early, older drivers can learn more about age-related changes to their body and discuss strategies with their healthcare provider to best compensate for declines.”

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) to evaluate how an older drivers’ (ages 65-79) comfort level on the road affects their driving behaviors. Using GPS data loggers to track driving patterns, they found that older drivers who report lower comfort driving at night, during afternoon rush hour, on the freeway and in unfamiliar areas also self-regulated their behavior to reduce or avoid driving in those situations.

While self-regulation is often the best solution to allow older drivers to continue driving safely, some changes can create unintended consequences on the roadway. For example, using side streets to avoid the freeway can also increase an older drivers’ risk of a crash by increasing the distance traveled and their exposure on the road.

“Older drivers should not let physical discomfort and low confidence limit their mobility or safety, especially when your doctor may help you find ways to address these issues,” said Rhonda Shah, AAA manager of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Community Impact. “Oftentimes, simple adjustments to your vehicle, a driver refresher course or a change to your prescription medications can improve comfort and safety behind the wheel. The key is to speak up about it.”

When older drivers begin to experience physical changes to the body or feelings of driving discomfort, AAA recommends:

  • Talk About It: Visit a doctor or occupational therapy driver rehabilitation specialist to determine the cause of your discomfort and evaluate potential solutions.
  • Educate Yourself: You can evaluate your driving performance using tools like AAA’s Driver65Plus to determine your strengths and weaknesses and learn ways to improve your driving. Consider taking a driver improvement course to help refresh your driving knowledge, get the most out of your vehicle and reduce risk on the road.
  • Make Changes: Once you know the cause of your discomfort, make needed vehicle adjustments. Free programs like CarFit can help older drivers learn about changes they can make to their vehicle to better fit their needs.

For more information on AAA resources for older drivers, such as RoadWise online/classroom courses or other programs that help seniors better “fit” with their vehicles, visit www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, and innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand and meet the safety and mobility needs of older drivers in the United States. The AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies available on senior drivers with 2,990 participants being followed for five years. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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New AAA Foundation study shows more teens are obtaining their license before the age of 18

WASHINGTON (Oct 21, 2019) – More than 60% of teens got their driver’s license before the age of 18, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. An 11% increase since 2012.

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The new report reveals a changing trend in teen licensure from when the Foundation first evaluated the issue in 2012. At the time, the country was just emerging from a recession and many young people cited their family’s inability to afford the high cost of driving as a reason why they did not obtain their license sooner.

“The trend for teens to acquire their driver’s license has changed over the past 10 years,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Many are getting licensed before the age of 18, which means more of Generation Z is learning to drive under the protection of state graduated driver licensing programs and parental supervision.”

The new AAA Foundation study surveyed young adults ages 18-24 to determine when they obtained their license and found that nationally, 40.8% got their license at or before age 16 and 60.3% got their license before the age of 18. Other findings show:

  • Only half (49.8%) of teens in large cities obtain their license before the age of 18, compared with nearly two-thirds of those in less urbanized areas.
  • Teens living in the Midwest tend to be licensed at younger ages — 55% at or before age 16 and 70% before age 18. While only one-third (32.2%) of teens living in the West and fewer than a quarter (22.3%) of teens in the Northeast reported getting their license at or before age 16, only 56% (Northeast) and 48% (West) did so before age 18.

Past AAA Foundation research found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. All states have in place graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems for teen drivers ages 16 and 17 to help them gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions. The programs require minimum holding periods and practice requirements for teens with learner’s permits, followed by restricted licenses that limit driving at night or with peer passengers.

“The fact that more teens are starting to drive at an age when they can gradually learn the necessary skills to be safe behind the wheel is great news for all drivers,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA director of state relations. “Past trends of waiting until you turn 18 to be licensed was a cause for concern. Many of these young drivers were getting behind the wheel with minimal knowledge or support, putting themselves and others at risk.”

A previous AAA Foundation study found that drivers first licensed at age 18 are more likely to be involved in a crash resulting in injuries during their first year of solo driving than new drivers licensed at any other age. Nearly 28% of the young adults in the AAA Foundation survey reported waiting until they were 18 or older to get their license. Reasons young adults cited for delaying licensure included:

  • Nervous about driving (68.4%)
  • They could do everything they needed without driving (52.6%)
  • Driving was too expensive (33.3%)
  • Too busy to get a license (28.9%)
  • Family members did not have time to help them get their license (20.5%)

“It is imperative that all new drivers practice driving with a skilled coach through a variety of routes and in different weather conditions before heading out on their own,” said Dr. Bill Van Tassel, AAA manager of driver training programs. “Novice drivers shouldn’t let the first time that they drive in the rain or on the freeway be at a time when they’re alone.”

By setting parameters, new drivers can greatly minimize their risk of a crash. AAA recommends that regardless of their age when first learning to drive, new drivers should remember to “R.E.A.D the road”:

  • R = Right speed, for right now: Always mind the speed limit and reduce your speed when traveling in adverse weather conditions.
  • E = Eyes up, brain on: Always scan the road to anticipate dangers ahead. Eliminate distractions and keep your mind focused on the task of driving.
  • A = Anticipate their next move: Be aware of other drivers on the road. Anticipate their next move and always have a plan to respond.
  • D = Huge DONUT of space around your vehicle: Keep large amounts of space to the front and sides of your vehicle.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teach new drivers the rules of the road. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Novice drivers preparing for the responsibility of driving alone should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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Red Light Running Deaths Hit 10 Year High

August 29th, 2019 by AAA Public Affairs

New AAA Foundation data analysis finds more than two people are killed every day in red light running crashes, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug 29, 2019)- More than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights, according to data analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most recent crash data available shows 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017 — a 10-year high and a 28% increase since 2012. With the number of red light running crashes on the rise, AAA calls for drivers to use caution when approaching signalized intersections, and for pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert when crossing the street.

According to the AAA Foundation:

  • 28% of crash deaths that occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.
  • Per capita, Arizona has the highest rate of red light running fatalities while New Hampshire has the lowest rate.
  • Nearly half (46%) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and more than 5% were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 35% of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.

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“Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The data shows that red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. All road safety stakeholders must work together to change behavior and identify effective countermeasures.”

According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85% of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely. More than 2 in 5 drivers also say it is unlikely they’ll be stopped by police for running a red light. Nevertheless, it’s against the law and if a driver is involved in a deadly crash, it could send them to jail.

While enforcement is the best way to get drivers to comply with any law, it is impossible for police to be at every intersection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when properly implemented, red light cameras reduced the fatal red light running crash rate of large cities by 21% and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14%.

 “Deaths caused by red light running are on the rise,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for Research. “Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds. Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red light running and save lives.” 

Proper implementation of red light cameras helps to ensure drivers’ safety and trust in the systems. When using red light camera programs, local governments should incorporate best practices, such as:

  • Using the camera program as part of a comprehensive traffic safety strategy, including engineering and education.
  • Only implementing programs on roadways with a demonstrated pattern of violations or crashes.
  • Notifying drivers that cameras are being used (signage and other methods).
  • Calibrating cameras regularly.
  • Only operating cameras under the direct supervision of law enforcement personnel.
  • Evaluating the programs on a periodic basis to ensure safety benefits are being realized.

Changes in driver behavior are also critical to reducing the number of red light running crashes on U.S. roads. To prevent red light crashes, AAA recommends that drivers:

  • Prepare to Stop: Lift your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brake” when preparing to enter any intersection by positioning your right foot just above the brake pedal, without touching it.
  • Use Good Judgment: Monitor “stale” green lights, those that have been green a long time as you’ve approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.
  • Tap the Brake: Tap your brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to slow down. This will catch the attention of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.
  • Drive Defensively: Before you enter an intersection after the light has turned green for you, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.   

Pedestrians and cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections. AAA recommends:

  • Wait: Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the intersection.
  • Stay Alert and Listen: Don’t take chances and don’t wear headphones. Watch what is going on and give your full attention to the environment around you.
  • Be Visible: Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.
  • Make Eye Contact: Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

New AAA Foundation research suggests focusing on older drivers could hold the key to safer in-vehicle technology for everyone

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (July 25, 2019) – New in-vehicle infotainment technology has the potential to increase comfort and extend mobility for older drivers, but first it has to stop distracting them. On average, older drivers (ages 55-75) removed their eyes and attention from the road for more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36) when performing simple tasks like programming navigation or tuning the radio using in-vehicle infotainment technology, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles a driver’s risk of a crash.

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“Voice-command functions found in new in-vehicle technology are intended to help drivers by keeping their eyes and attention on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, the complexity and poor design of some of these systems could cause more harm for older drivers, in particular, instead of helping them.”

By 2030, more than one in five drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. With seniors becoming the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., finding ways to design technology to improve their comfort and safety is critical and may hold the key to enhancing the safe use of this technology for all drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety partnered with researchers from the University of Utah to test the visual and cognitive demand created by the infotainment systems in six 2018 vehicles. Study participants in two age groups (21-36 and 55-75) were required to use voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation, all while driving.

Researchers found that the technology created potentially unsafe distractions for all drivers, though this safety risk is more pronounced for older adults, who took longer (4.7-8.6 seconds) to complete tasks, experienced slower response times, and increased visual distractions.

Completion Time by Task Type

  Audio Entertainment Calling and Dialing Text Messaging Navigation Entry
Younger (21-36 yrs) 18.0 sec 17.7 sec 27.7 sec 31.4 sec
Older (55-75 yrs) 25.4 sec 22.4 sec 33.8 sec 40.0 sec

The complex design of the technology created increased visual and cognitive demand for older drivers. For example, some systems included multiple menus and cumbersome voice command functions that significantly reduced older drivers’ ability to easily complete seemingly simple tasks.

Specific design changes to in-vehicle infotainment systems, like improving voice-command technology, simplifying software menus, removing complex center console controls, and positioning system controls to allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road, would better meet the needs of older adults and make the systems safer for all drivers.

“This is a design problem, not an age problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Designing systems to meet the safety and comfort needs of aging drivers would benefit all of us today, and for years to come.”

Personal assessments about distraction caused by in-vehicle technologies are not always accurate. For example, in some cases drivers reported the use of the systems as less demanding even though researchers measured higher levels of demand or longer task completion times.

Whether you purchase a new vehicle, or rent one while traveling, AAA recommends that all drivers, especially older drivers, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Avoid interacting with in-vehicle infotainment technology while driving except for legitimate emergencies.
  • Practice using the voice command and touch screen functions when not driving to build comfort in case emergency use is required.
  • Avoid vehicles that require use of a center console controller when using the infotainment system. These kinds of systems are especially distracting, and potentially dangerous.

A total of 128 drivers ages 21-36 and 55-75 participated in the study of six 2018 model-year vehicles. The latest report is the seventh phase of distraction research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Visit AAA.com/distraction to learn more.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

New AAA Foundation research shows an estimated 14.8 million Americans report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (June 19, 2019) –  Nearly 70% of Americans think it’s unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving while high on marijuana, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey. An alarming finding shows that an estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days. The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug.1 And marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.2

Additional Resources

“Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgment. Yet, many drivers don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important for everyone to understand that driving after recently using marijuana can put themselves and others at risk.”

In the AAA Foundation survey, 7% of Americans reported they approved of driving after recently using marijuana – more than other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6%), drowsy driving (1.7%), and prescription drug-impaired driving (3%). Other survey findings show that:

  • Millennials (nearly 14%) are most likely to report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days, followed by Generation Z (10%).
  • Men (8%) are more likely than women (5%) to report driving shortly after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

“It’s time to face the facts. Any driver who gets behind the wheel high can be arrested and prosecuted,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety and Advocacy. “Law enforcement officials are getting more sophisticated in their methods for identifying marijuana-impaired drivers and the consequences are not worth the risk.”

Programs like Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and the 50-State Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program were developed to train law enforcement officers around the country to more effectively recognize drug-impaired driving. There are currently more than 87,000 ARIDE and 8,300 DECP trained officers patrolling U.S. roads. Additionally, the number of trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) has increased by 30% since 2013. These officers report that marijuana is the most frequently identified drug category. Since 2015, the number of drivers arrested by DREs for using marijuana increased 20%.3

AAA recommends all motorists avoid driving while impaired by marijuana or any other drug (including alcohol) to avoid arrest and keep the roads safe. Just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put themselves and others at risk.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 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.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, 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. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

 

1MacDonald S. Cannabis Crashes: Myths & Truths 2019
2Hall W. What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use? Addiction 2015; 110: 19-35.
32017 Annual DECP Report – International Association of Chiefs of Police

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