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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: March 20, 2014
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According to a recent survey conducted by AAA, fewer motorists in New Jersey today consider drunk driving to be a ‘very serious’ safety problem. The same survey conducted four years ago showed a different result.

A total of 1,000 random motorists from around the state were participants of the survey which was conducted in November. The survey asked respondents to rank the problem of DWI. They were given 4 options to choose from:

  • “very serious”
  • “somewhat serious”
  • “not very serious” and
  • “not serious at all”

In 2009, a total of 87 percent of the participants answered “very serious,” compared to only 81 percent of respondents this year.

According to Cathleen Lewis, a spokeswoman for the AAA Clubs of New Jersey, this relaxed attitude toward DWI is troubling because attitudes can reflect behavior. “I think if people start to see it as less serious, there is the possibility that people start to slip when it comes to engaging in the activity. They might be less likely to insist on a designated driver or they might have that second drink,” she said. “I think if people start to see it as less serious there is the possibility that people start to slip when it comes to engaging in the activity,” she added.

A broad driving-related survey is conducted by AAA around the state every other year as part of its bi-annual report to the legislature. This report covers the attitude and behavior of New Jersey motorists.

Results for this year’s survey were released last week which reported fewer drivers to be texting behind the wheel as compared to a survey conducted two years ago, in late 2011. The results were 27 percent this year and 33 percent for 2011.

Similarly, respondents were asked to rank the danger of driving while under the influence of prescription medication in the November survey, and the share of drivers who answered “very dangerous” fell to 61 percent.

The survey also broke down answers to questions according to the education level of the respondents. The motorist’s level of education level and their response shows an inverse relationship when it comes to responding to the dangers of driving while on prescription drugs. For example, figures show that 88 percent of respondents with high school degrees or less education said driving on prescription drugs was either “very serious” or “somewhat serious,” whereas only 5 percent said it was “not serious at all.”

On the other hand, 83 percents of respondents who had a college degree considered it “very serious” and 7 percent said it was not serious at all. Also, 78 percent of those respondents with a master’s degrees or higher, viewed driving on prescription drugs as very or somewhat serious, while 10 percent of these highly educated respondents found it not to be serious at all.

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