Spotting a bad driver on the road is almost a daily occurrence. As you approach their vehicle, you might realize that they were texting or talking on their cellphone. This behavior is dangerous, and as users of the road, we don’t want to fall victim to an accident caused by a distracted driver – but do we always practice what we preach?
A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that nearly 70 percent of drivers from every age group admit to engaging in risky behavior on the road. These habits include speeding, running red lights, and texting and driving. Drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 were the most likely to drive dangerously, with nearly nine out of 10 admitting to such behavior.
The fact that young people have poor driving habits is perhaps unsurprising. Inexperience combined with newfound independence in life increases risky behavior. The wellbeing of young people on the road is often the focus of safety campaigns, but perhaps a wider scope is necessary.
70 percent of drivers who call distracted driving “unacceptable” engage it themselves
The study also asked whether or not drivers viewed certain behaviors as acceptable, including texting and driving, drowsy driving and running a red light. More than three out of four drivers called each of these actions “completely unacceptable,” yet nearly the same number engaged in the activities themselves.
This behavior is known as “moral hypocrisy.” That is to say: people see rules as black and white until the rules apply to them. Often when we approach a yellow light, we think that speeding through the intersection to beat the light “just this once” can’t hurt, right? While it might be easy to justify in the moment, psychology and legal experts say that there is a way to get people to stop acting less hypocritical and more reciprocal.
Less hypocrisy, more reciprocity
Experts say that accountability and apology are essential to getting people to understand the negative consequences of their actions. The same logic can be applied to distracted drivers who cause accidents and injuries on the road.
Injured parties can use the civil court system to hold distracted drivers accountable. A personal injury lawsuit allows a person harmed by a reckless driver to have his or her case heard by a judge. Compensation for the costs of injuries and accidents is possible through this process.