State finds risky drivers think they're safe

Fair research
Eric Krogseng of Minneapolis drives off the road while texting during a study about distracted driving at the University of Minnesota's Driven to Discover building at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News

Drivers who speed, text and engage in other risky behaviors behind the wheel are apparently more likely than other people to have an "inflated estimation of their own driving abilities," reads a report released this week by the Department of Public Safety.

The report, from the department's Office of Traffic Safety, defined four risky behaviors: drinking and driving; texting or using the Internet while driving; speeding; and failing to use a seat belt. It asked 1,570 people if they'd engaged in one or more of those behaviors.

The majority of people surveyed said they hadn't engaged in any of the risky behaviors, but 40 percent of respondents admitted to at least one of them.

Researchers grouped survey participants into three categories: high, moderate and low risk. A high-risk driver is someone who admits to driving after at least two drinks or engaging in two or more of any of the other risky behaviors.

Researchers found that despite the increased risk factors, high-risk drivers tend to think they are above-average drivers. They also found that people who drink and drive tend to believe they can handle their alcohol better than the average person.

The report found that drivers were more likely to change their risky behaviors after receiving a ticket or being arrested.

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