With the beginning of the holiday travel season, the California Office of Traffic Safety has completed California’s first statewide survey of the opinions of motorists on a multitude of traffic safety issues, a news release stated.
According to the survey, about 25 percent of all respondents indicated that speeding and aggressive driving together are the No. 1 safety problem on California’s roadways.
Speeding is the top cause of traffic accidents in Santa Cruz County, said California Highway Patrol officer Sarah Jackson.
“Speeding and driving under the influence are without question the two most common things we deal with (in Santa Cruz County),” Jackson said.
Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed named driving under the influence of drugs, both legal and illegal, as a problem, the release stated.
“Driving under the influence” is a blanket term that covers alcohol and other drugs alike, Jackson said.
The consequences are the same for a drunken driver as they are for a drugged driver.
While alcohol and assorted opiates are common causes for a DUI in Santa Cruz County, Jackson said, prescription medication is also often a cause for impaired driving.
“People will get prescribed medication and don’t realize how impaired they really are from it,” Johnson said. “When the medicine label says not to operate machinery, that means don’t drive.”
Sixty percent of responses named cell phone calls and text-messaging as the biggest distraction for drivers, the release stated. Nearly 55 percent reported having been hit or nearly hit by a driver who was talking or texting on a cell phone.
Most drivers do obey the hands-free cell phone laws, Jackson said, but there are still those who choose to ignore them.
“I see (people using their cell phones) a lot more when I’m in my personal car,” Jackson said. “People tend to obey the law and drive nicer when they see a CHP cruiser nearby.”
Nearly 96 percent of those surveyed stated that they always wear a seat belt, the release stated, and 83 percent had seen “Click It or Ticket” messages within six months.
“It’s physics 101,” Johnson said. “If you’re in a crash without a seat belt, you’re a pinball. Which would you rather have stopping you, a seat belt or the dashboard?”
In July, survey takers interviewed 1,671 drivers at 60 gas stations in 15 counties throughout California.
The survey’s goal is “to hear directly from California motorists on traffic safety issues of concern and priority in this state,” said Christopher Murphy, director of the office of traffic safety, in the release.