Speeding, Stressed-out and Sleepy

This archived article is from July 2002. Although every effort has been made to make sure the information presented is accurate, please note that it may contain information that is out-of-date.

The aggressive driving situation on our roads is not getting any better. The Nerves of Steel Aggressive Driving Study, commissioned by TheSteelAlliance and Canada Safety Council, found that 88% of us admit to aggressive driving in the past year. That's up from 84% in the first Nerves of Steel study, four years ago. Speeding and running traffic lights remain the most common aggressive behaviors.

Stress, not surprisingly, is the main reason given for aggressive driving. Demanding schedules could explain why 76% of Canadian drivers surveyed say sleep-deprived drivers are a common problem on Canadian roads. It seems many Canadians are also driving while drowsy themselves: over half of drivers surveyed admit they have driven while tired over the past year and almost 60% highlighted afternoon and evening as the time they feel most drowsy while driving.

Concerns about fatigue have focused on truck drivers. The Road Safety Monitor, an annual public opinion survey of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, found that 70% of Canadians believe truck drivers who are tired by long hours of driving are a serious problem. (The Canada Safety Council is also a sponsor of that survey.) However, the questions asked only about truck drivers. Nerves of Steel respondents identify fatigue as a more general traffic safety concern.

Today's pace of life not only fuels aggressive driving and drowsy driving, it also leads drivers to multi-task while in the car. Three-quarters of Nerves of Steel respondents admit to having multi-tasked while driving. Tasks include eating, reading, using a cell phone or even shaving. In turn, 87% of respondents are frustrated when they see other drivers multi-tasking behind the wheel - an 11% increase from last year.

Running traffic lights is both illegal and dangerous. It is also the most common act of aggressive driving. Yet when asked what they thought causes the most collisions, fewer than one percent suggested running red lights. (Driver inattention, speeding and impaired driving were named most often.)

Canada's traffic fatality rate has dropped over the past thirty years to an all-time low. Our road safety record is second to none in the world when distance is taken into account. The national goal is to reduce the number of motor vehicle deaths (which stood at 2,917 in 2000) to fewer than 2,100 by the year 2010.

Nerves of Steel reveals where we need to improve. Too many Canadians seem to take the driving task for granted. They break fundamental rules of the road, and try to fit more and more into a day even if it jeopardizes their safety. These behaviors are rooted in attitudes which must be addressed in order to achieve further reductions in traffic deaths and injuries.