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Americans Care Less About Drunk Driving, Other Risky Behaviors

Drunk Driving
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Americans are becoming less concerned about drunk driving, according to a new study by AAA. The news comes as local police departments around the country prepare to crack down on drunk driving this Labor Day Weekend.

The U.S. saw an estimated 5.3 percent increase in traffic deaths in 2012, the first annual increase in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The study, which is based on four years of surveys conducted by the non-profit AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS), shows that between 2009 and 2012 the number of people who believe drunk driving is a serious threat declined from 90 percent to 69 percent.

During that same period, concern about other dangerous behaviors, such as driving while drowsy (which we’ve covered before) or driving while texting, also decreased, from 71 percent to 46 percent for drowsy driving and 87 percent to 81 percent for texting. The number of people admitting to texting while driving rose to 26 percent from 21 percent.

According to AOL Autos, decreasing concern about texting while driving comes amid broad efforts by safety organizations and major companies to underscore just how dangerous it is. A high-profile video produced by AT&T and Oscar-nominated director Werner Herzog is one of the latest such efforts.

As for why this indifference is occurring now, Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAAFTS, blames a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. "A ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude remains common with many motorists consistently admitting to engaging in the same dangerous behaviors for which they would condemn other drivers," Kissinger said in a press release.

Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, an organization representing state highway safety offices, points his finger at the years of falling traffic fatalities for driver apathy. "Also, when highway fatalities go down, as they have until just very recently, there is less attention paid to it by the media and people tend to feel like that problem has been solved," Adkins told The Associated Press. "Highway safety in general has always been difficult to make a big concern among the public despite the high numbers (of deaths)."

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