For immediate release: December 1, 2010
For more information: Quinn Brackett, 979-845-1605 (office); Bernie Fette, 979-845-2623 (office) 979-777-7532 (cell)
Traffic deaths down, but many feel less safe
More than a third of Texas drivers feel less safe on the roadways than they did five years ago, and they see the source of the increased danger in other drivers who are more likely to be aggressive and either talk or text on cell phones.
And although well over half believe that vehicle safety is better, only 20 percent say that they, themselves, feel safer than before, even though traffic deaths in Texas have generally declined in recent years.
These and other insights are reflected in a recent study conducted by the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas Transportation Institute, which involved 1,167 respondents who were surveyed at Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Offices across the state during September and October.
After several years of nearly constant fatality rates, trends both nationwide and in Texas began to reflect a decline in recent years, due in large part to stepped-up law enforcement and engineering improvements associated with both roadways and vehicles. However, a growing number of experts believe that further improvements will be incremental at best if solutions are limited to enforcement and engineering. The Texas Traffic Safety Culture Survey was conducted to gain an understanding of drivers’ attitudes. Researchers plan to repeat the survey in future years to measure changes in those attitudes.
Among other major findings, researchers found that:
- More than four out of five respondents say that texting while driving is a bigger problem than it was five years ago, and 81 percent say that cell phone use has gotten worse.
- Well over half say aggressive driving is worse, and nearly half say the same thing about driver courtesy.
- More than 40 percent say that speeding is worse.
- Texans generally feel safer on the roads than drivers nationwide, as measured in the 2010 Traffic Safety Culture Index published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In that survey, 52 percent of drivers nationwide said they feel less safe, while the number in Texas is 34 percent.
Regarding views related to laws in Texas, researchers found that:
- Supporters of a law to ban cell phone use while driving outnumber opponents by a two-to-one margin.
- Supporters also outnumber opponents when it comes to the use of red light cameras, sobriety checkpoints, and also in requiring the use of ignition interlock devices for drivers with DWI convictions.
- Seven out of ten favor a law that would require all motorcyclists to wear helmets.
- Survey participants were generally opposed to raising the state’s gasoline tax to pay for new roads or to make the roads safer.
The survey was conducted in 10 locations and reflects a cross-section of the opinions of the adult population in Texas.
View PDF of the Texas survey.
Compare results with AAA Foundation National Traffic Safety Culture survey.