We admit that we are distracted behind the wheel, but a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University and USAA says we believe that other drivers are a lot more distracted than we are, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The figures are frightening. Three out of four of us admit that we talk on the cell phone while we are driving, but we think that 96% of other drivers do the same thing.
“Similarly, 44% admit to texting while driving, but they believe that 89% of other drivers do so,” the TTI’s Rick Davenport told 1200 WOAI news.
The figures are in line with surveys generally about driving habits. Studies have shown that almost all Texas drivers think they are better, safer, and more conscientious behind the wheel than almost all other drivers, and their rationale for speeding, making unsafe lane changes or engaging in aggressive driving is generally that other drivers do it all the time, and they do it a lot less frequently than everybody else.
“The bottom line is that people tend to underestimate their own risk,” the Institute’s Katie Womack said. “They might see it as a risk that is applicable to others.”
And smarter people aren’t necessarily smarter behind the wheel. The study says talking, texting, and surfing the web behind the wheel is actually associated with higher education. So the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to engage in these risky behaviors.
Davenport says the bottom line is, we all think we are a good enough driver to handle the distraction of texting behind the wheel, but we doubt that other drivers can handle it as well as we do.
“Three fourths of those surveyed say they have talked on a cell phone while driving within the past month,” he said.
And 18%, or roughly one in five drivers, admit that they check Facebook or surf other on line web content on their smart phones while driving. But again, they think that nearly 70% of drivers are doing it frequently.
The study also showed that Texas motorists don’t think ‘distracted driving’ is nearly as serious as drunk driving. When asked what would be the most effective measure the state could take to make the roads safer, number one was a crackdown on drunk driving, and number two was tougher police enforcement generally. Only 16.7% said a ban on texting and driving is a ‘top priority.’