AAA: Not your imagination; you're spending more time behind wheel

Increase in time spent driving increases risk something unexpected will happen

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

If it seems like you’re spending more time on the road, you’re right, according to new research from AAA.

Between driving to and from work, taking the kids to school and running errands, Americans are spending an additional 20 minutes driving per week.

In the most recent research from the 2016-2017 year, Americans collectively spent 70 billion hours behind the wheel -- up 8 percent from 2014, researchers said.

The research also says people driving more increases their risk of something happening behind the wheel.

On average, drivers spend what adds up to an hour each day driving.

The study also finds the average driver traveled 31.5 miles -- that's up 5 percent from 2014.

Overall, researchers say drivers travel more than 220 miles each week.

And all totaled, Americans drive 11,498 miles each year. For perspective, that's like making two cross-country round trip drives from Orlando to San Francisco.

“As your time behind the wheel increases, so does your risk of being involved in a crash,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said. “The longer you stay behind the wheel, the more likely you are to experience fatigue, distraction and impatience, which are all major contributors to vehicle crashes. AAA urges drivers to stay alert and focused on driving. This can save the lives of you, your passengers and the other people on the road.”

Some other interesting findings from this study:

Demographics

  • Men spend 19 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 27 percent more miles than women.
  • People who are married or living with a partner spend at least 12 percent more time driving than those who are not.
  • Drivers aged 75+ are spending, on average, 34.8 minutes a day driving -- a 23 percent increase from 2014.

Regional

  • Drivers in the West spend the most time driving (58.9 minutes per day), followed by drivers in the Northeast (51.1 minutes), South (49.9 minutes) and Midwest (44.5 minutes) regions.
  • The number of individuals who reported driving in the Midwest region dropped 3 percent, while the number of drivers in the Northeast, South and West regions increased or remained the same.

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