- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A majority of drivers admit to routinely speeding, eating or even reading while they drive in a poll designed to measure drivers’ attitudes about safety.

Ninety-one percent of drivers of all ages acknowledged at least one risky activity in the previous six months, including 71 percent who said they sped, 59 percent who ate while driving, 37 percent who used a cell phone, 28 percent who wore no seat belt and 26 percent who used no signal when turning. Fourteen percent admitted to reading while driving.

At the same time, drivers were likely to say that someone else on the road is more dangerous than they are. Drivers ages 26-44 were most likely to engage in risky driving, but when that age group was asked which drivers should be retested to make sure they are driving safely, 83 percent said seniors and 69 percent said teens. Fifty-six percent said everyone should be retested.

“We worry about the car, the weather, the driver in front or behind us. But we don’t spend nearly enough time worrying about our own driving habits,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

Of those 65 and older, 68 percent said teens should be retested, and 59 percent said seniors should be retested. Of those younger than 26, 83 percent said seniors should be retested and 47 percent said teens should be retested.

The survey, released yesterday, was conducted for Volvo Cars of North America, AAA and Partners for Highway Safety as part of a new safety campaign.

The groups plan a Web site that invites drivers to test their knowledge of safe driving habits and learn about safe driving techniques. The group also plans to air a half-hour television special during the summer on safe driving.

“So far, the focus has been on making cars and roads safer,” AAA Vice President Susan Pikrallidas said. “But driving is a complex task, and many of us have poor driving habits.”

The drivers polled also said drivers have gotten more dangerous. Eighty-one percent said cars are safer than in the past, and 57 percent said roads are safer, but 27 percent said drivers are safer.

The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. May 13-16. It questioned 1,100 drivers ages 16 or older and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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