We should all re-examine our driving behavior

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2003

We’ve all encountered them – people who put on make-up, talk on their cell phone, eat or even read the newspaper while driving. They’re a menace to themselves and everyone else on the roads.

We would certainly never exhibit such recklessness behind the wheel. Or would we?

Apparently so. According to the results of a poll released Tuesday by Volvo Cars of North America, AAA and Partners for Highway Safety, we are all nearly guilty.

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Over 90 percent of us say we speed, eat, use cell phones or even read while at the wheel. And what’s more, the poll finds that we’re all sure that other drivers are worse.

Ninety-one percent of drivers of all ages acknowledged at least one risky activity in the previous six months. Speeders made up 73 percent of drivers; 59 percent ate while driving; 37 percent used a cell phone; 28 percent wore no seat belt; 26 percent used no signal when turning; and 14 percent admitted to reading while driving.

&uot;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,&uot; said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

Drivers were likely to say that someone else on the road was more dangerous than they were. Drivers from 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’re driving safely, 83 percent said seniors and 69 percent said teens. Only 56 percent said everyone should be retested.

Volvo, AAA and Partners for Highway Safety have started Web site that invites drivers to test their driving knowledge and learn about safe driving techniques. The group also plans to air a half-hour television special this summer on safe driving.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, who is working with the group, said there is a critical need for drivers to re-examine their behavior.

&uot;The simple fact is most highway fatalities can be avoided,&uot; he said.

It appears that we have met the enemy and he is us.