Over half of drivers you share the road with are dangerous, says AAA

Two people using smartphones in car

AA chart of dangerous driving behaviorsAAAA new nationwide study found something most truckers already know: this country's highways are filled with unsafe drivers.

A new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety identifies six types of drivers by analyzing risky driving behaviors. The most common dangerous behaviors were speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving.

AAA said its annual Traffic Safety Culture Index survey developed these six driver profiles by examining patterns of self-reported risky driving behaviors among a large group of drivers. Only 4 in 10 surveyed fall into the “Safe Drivers” category.

The six driver profiles identified by the latest Traffic Safety Culture Index and their prevalence are:

  • Safe Drivers (41.2%) – Few in this group reported engaging in any risky driving-related behaviors, and more women (57%) composed the Safe Drivers group.
  • Speeding Drivers (22.7%) – These drivers reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on freeways and/or 10 mph over on residential streets but did not engage in most other dangerous behaviors.
  • Distracted and Aggressive Drivers (17.3%) – Reported distracted driving behaviors (texting while driving), speeding, and aggressive behaviors, such as red-light running and switching lanes quickly.
  • Distracted Drivers (15%) – These drivers reported distracted driving behaviors such as reading text messages and texting while driving.
  • Most Dangerous Drivers (2.4%) – While these drivers consisted of only a small percentage of the drivers, they pose a serious risk to themselves and other road users as they reported engaging in all risky driving-related behaviors.
  • Impaired Drivers (1.3%) – Most live in non-metropolitan areas. Interestingly, drivers with a 4-year college degree were far less likely to report driving while impaired. At the same time, the most “over-represented” group consisted of those with some college or an associate degree.

“Despite acknowledging the dangers, some drivers continue to engage in potentially deadly behaviors, particularly speeding,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety president and executive director. “Understanding the different types of risky driving behaviors and the characteristics of drivers who engage in them is crucial for developing targeted interventions to achieve safe mobility.”

As daily driving patterns and traffic volumes rebound from pandemic lows, traffic fatalities remain alarmingly high.  Evidence points to fewer traffic stops, while fatal crashes involving risky behaviors like impaired driving and speeding remain an epidemic on our roadways.

According to the new  Traffic Safety Culture Index report, fewer drivers perceive speeding as dangerous, and speeding behaviors have the lowest perceived social disapproval of all the examined unsafe driving behaviors.