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Drivers know what to do but still behave badly

Have you ever passed a driver who was looking down at a cell phone? Have you watched anyone drive through an intersection after the light had turned red? Maybe you have been with friends who drove themselves home even after they had been drinking alcohol. Would you be willing to admit to these behaviors yourself?

Practically every driver in Hawaii and beyond engages in a risky behavior now and then, but some are habitually reckless, placing you and your loved ones in danger anytime you hit the road. A recent study shows a vast disconnect between what drivers know they should or should not be doing and how they really behave when they drive.

The differences among demographics

While you might think new drivers are the speed demons of the highway, in reality, drivers ages 16 to 18 tend to be more cautious about obeying traffic laws, such as speed limits, stop lights and texting restrictions. Once they reach the ages of 19 through 24, however, a dangerous over-confidence seems to take over, and those behaviors drivers once resisted become commonplace.

No matter what age bracket you look at, you will hear people say they understand the dangers of certain behaviors, yet you will see more drivers engaging in those actions, for example:

  • Sixty-eight percent of drivers admit to having made calls on their cell phones while driving.
  • Twenty-three percent of drivers see no problem with going 15 mph faster than the posted speed limit.
  • Thirty-four percent of drivers do not believe it is dangerous for someone to drive while taking prescription medications.
  • Twenty-nine percent of drivers admit they have driven when they were too sleepy to keep their eyes open.

Dangerous driving behavior becomes more prevalent among age groups you may have once thought of as safer drivers. You may notice that drivers over the age of 75, who may already be having difficulty with their driving skills, are increasingly engaging in behaviors like texting, talking on handheld cell phones and racing through red lights. Meanwhile, teenagers may be getting the message about reducing distractions and avoiding alcohol when they drive.

Eighty-three percent of drivers feel they drive more safely than most other drivers. Nevertheless, the number of traffic accidents and related fatalities continues to climb, taking a 14 percent leap in the past two years. The National Safety Council says this is the sharpest increase in half a century.

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