More than a third of Texas drivers think roadways are less safe than they were five years ago even though data shows that deaths have steadily decreased, according to a survey by the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas Transportation Institute, a transportation research agency affiliated with Texas A&M University.
Traffic safety improvements have traditionally relied on engineering and enforcement solutions, says the institute, but future meaningful safety measures will depend on changing attitudes. The Texas Traffic Safety Culture Survey is meant to provide an idea of current sentiments about driving to measure future changes against. The survey was conducted in 10 locations across the state with the participation of 1,167 licensed drivers during September and October.
Why do drivers feel less safe even though they think vehicle safety and road conditions have improved? Over half say aggressive driving is worse, and almost half say the same thing about driver courtesy. Just over 80 percent feel that texting while driving and cell phone use have become bigger problems, and over half favor laws banning both practices. More than 40 percent say speeding is worse.
Respondents are against increasing the gas tax to pay for new road construction or repair dangerous roads, with 67 percent and 55 percent opposed or strongly opposed, respectively. Although over half say they oppose or strongly oppose using cameras to ticket drivers on freeways and residential streets, 48 percent favor or strongly favor them to ticket drivers who run red lights. While only 43 percent endorse sobriety checkpoints, 61 percent would agree with requiring all drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated to use a device to keep their car from starting if they have been drinking.
Transportation costs are affecting behavior — 31 percent say they shop online more often to save money on transportation. Still, Texans prefer to travel in vehicles, with 47 percent reporting they haven’t ridden a bicycle for transportation in the past five years, and 32 percent saying the same thing about walking.
The institute plans to conduct the survey and publish results annually.