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Distracted driving remains a significant and high-profile safety concern. While the vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on our roadways, research has shown that most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel. Are you one of them? Honestly answer yourself the following questions:

  • Have you ever gotten behind the wheel tired or fatigued?
  • Have you ever exceeded the speed limit (your neighborhood counts)?
  • Have you ever run a “pink” light when you should have safely stopped on yellow?
  • Have you ever run a red light or stop sign?
  • Have you ever failed to buckle up (your subdivision counts)?
  • Have you ever had a drink and then got behind the wheel?
  • Have you ever driven impaired by alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you ever had a snack, lunch, cup of coffee, or soft drink while driving?
  • Have you ever made or answered a phone call (even to say “on my way” counts) while driving?
  • Have you ever sent or read a text while behind the wheel (sitting at a stoplight counts)?
  • Have you ever reached in the back seat or on the floor to retrieve an item while driving?
  • Have you ever been more focused on finding the right radio station than the cars around you?
  • Have you ever looked at the GPS screen or entered a route while driving?
  • Have you ever applied make-up, combed your hair, or shaved while driving?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above – be honest with yourself, you have engaged in risky behavior behind the wheel. You are not alone. According to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 80 percent of drivers viewed distracted driving as a bigger problem now than three years ago. Yet, in a sample size of 2442 licensed drivers 16 and older, nearly 87% of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the past month.

The survey identified the following behaviors as “risky:” driving while distracted, impaired or drowsy; speeding; running a red light; or not wearing a seat belt. The findings are startling.

  • Nearly half (48%) said they drove 15 mph over the posted limited on a freeway; 15% admitted doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • 45% exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph on a residential street; 11% admitted doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • 1 in 3 (32%) drivers said they have driven when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open. 22% admitted doing this more than once within the 30 days.
  • More than 1 in 3 (39%) admitted to driving through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely. About 1 in 4 drivers reported doing this more than once during that time.
  • 1 in 5 reported driving without a seat belt; more than 1 in 7 admit to doing this more than once.
  • 13% admitted driving when their blood alcohol level was near or over the legal limit for intoxication.
  • More than 2 in 3 drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving, with nearly 31% reporting that they did so fairly often or regularly.
  • More than 2 in 5 drivers admitted to reading a text message or email while driving, with 12% reporting doing this fairly often or regularly.
  • Nearly 32% admit to typing or sending a text or email; 8% said they did so fairly often or regularly.

The survey also revealed 1 in 3 drivers lost a friend or relative in a fatal auto accident, and 1 in 5 were involved in a crash serious enough to send someone to the hospital.

These disturbing results come as nearly 33,000 Americans died in car crashes in 2014, and preliminary estimates project a nine percent increase in deaths for 2015. There is no phone call, no text, no drink, nothing that is more important than your life and the life of others. NOTHING! Until ever driver makes responsible decisions to ensure safer roads, we are all at risk. Therefore, the more we educate, the better chance we have to ensuring safer roads for everyone.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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