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Survey: Majority of Americans Admit Dangerous Driving Behaviors

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August 21, 2019—A new ValuePenguin.com survey found almost all drivers—90 percent—admitted to dangerous driving behaviors within the past year. And while some of these behaviors—such as eating, talking on the phone or changing the music—may seem harmless, 94 percent of car crashes are caused by human error and dangerous driving behaviors.

Many drivers who engage in dangerous driving activities do so without legal ramifications—more than one-third of licensed drivers said they have never been pulled over for a traffic violation, despite engaging in dangerous driving behaviors.

Key Findings

  • Cell Phone Use Is The Biggest Danger On The Roads: As a group, cell phone use accounts for a large portion of dangerous behaviors that drivers admitted to committing: 58 percent, 27 percent and 24 percent of drivers reported talking on the phone, reading texts and sending texts, respectively. This is all in spite of the fact that 20 states along with the District of Columbia have issued bans on handheld cellphone use, with more states following suit.
  • Other Dangerous Driving Behaviors: While cell phone use collectively accounted for the most common dangerous driving behaviors, eating while driving (67 percent), changing the music while driving (55 percent) and speeding (41 percent) made up the other most common dangerous driving behaviors identified in the survey.
  • What Drivers See As The Most Dangerous Thing To Do While Driving: More survey respondents said that sending a text is the most dangerous thing to do while driving than those who listed drinking and driving. However, this is contradictory to driver behavior: six times as many drivers reported sending a text while driving as those who reported drinking and driving—24 percent compared to 4 percent.
  • Men Get More Tickets Than Women: Male drivers are more likely to get tickets for traffic violations than their female counterparts, with 94 percent of men reporting having been pulled over at least once compared to 89 percent of women. Men were also more likely to have received multiple tickets — 65 percent of men reported having received two or more tickets compared to 46 percent of women. This history of dangerous driving likely contributes to high insurance costs, especially for young male drivers who pay 23 percent more for auto insurance coverage than young women.
  • Which Part of the Country Has the Most Dangerous Drivers? The drivers in the Northeast took the top spot, indulging in an average of eight dangerous driving behaviors over the past year, followed by the Midwest with six, the West with five and the South with two. Interestingly, Southerners are most likely to have been pulled over for a traffic violation (67 percent), while residents of the Northeast and West are least likely (60 percent).

To determine the most common driving fails, ValuePenguin.com commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,033 Americans with a valid driver's license, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population of drivers across the country.

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