Many Arizonans report regularly speeding, running red lights, being distracted or driving drowsy, despite the fact that one in three has a loved one who has been seriously injured or killed in a crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. 

According to the latest Traffic Safety Culture Index by AAA, one in 10 drivers in Arizona has been seriously injured in a crash, and nearly one in five has been involved in a serious crash. 

In 2013, there were 10,240 car crashes in Pima County, which resulted in a $136.6 million economic loss. The 4,863 car crashes in Tucson that year caused 44 deaths and injuries to 3,679, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

 “It is very disappointing that we continue to see a prevailing attitude of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ where large numbers of motorists seem to recognize the risks of certain behaviors but do them anyway,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. 

For the seventh consecutive year, AAA is releasing findings that benchmark the attitudes and behaviors of Arizona drivers. The survey found certain driving behaviors are widespread, including:

Red light running: More than one-third (36 percent) admit to running red lights, yet 88 percent say it is a very serious threat and 97 percent say it is unacceptable.

Speeding (10-plus miles) on residential streets: Nearly half of drivers report speeding (44 percent), yet 90 percent say it is unacceptable.

Drowsy driving: Though three in 10 drivers (28 percent) admit to drowsy driving, 83 percent say it is a very serious threat and 99 percent say it is unacceptable.

Texting/emailing: One-third (32 percent) of drivers report typing or sending a text or email, yet 96 percent say it is a serious threat to safety and 98 percent say it is unacceptable.

The survey also found that two out of three drivers believe hands-free phone use is acceptable, and nearly half (46 percent) of drivers who use speech-based in-vehicle systems do not believe these are at all distracting. These beliefs are despite extensive research indicating that using hands-free devices leads to cognitive distraction.

“As a safety advocate, AAA believes that adopting a culture of safety starts with each individual, which then can lead to safer roadways,” Gorman said.

Arizonans can monitor the progress and take action on distracted driving bills, as well as other transportation-related issues, by visiting AAA’s legislative action center.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2006. The 2014 report is online at www.aaafoundation.org.

(Editor’s Note: Valerie Vinyard is a public affairs specialist for AAA Arizona. Contact her at vvinyard@arizona.aaa.com or at 258-0518.)

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