US drivers speed, text at the wheel, yet want safer streets, transportation survey reveals


A survey found that 12% of respondents said think it’s just fine to text while driving when the road is clear. — Dreamstime/TNS

A new survey by Central Florida’s transportation-planning agency found that 12% of respondents said think it’s just fine to text while driving when the road is clear.

“Twelve percent feels low but it’s not zero,” said Sara Vega of Summit Survey Research, which was hired by MetroPlan Orlando to conduct the survey of more than 3,000 Orange, Seminole and Osceola residents from late April to early June. “It definitely speaks to, in a measurable way, this lack of a sense of safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.”

Here’s some other stuff, from this large survey, to ponder.

More than half, or 56% of those surveyed, rate the region’s transportation system as average, poor or failing. The survey sought to have an accurate representation of age, race and other demographics.

As the car is god in Central Florida, 82% of respondents said they often drive; 28% often walk; 12% often take Uber or Lyft; 11% often pedal a bike; 8% often ride Lynx buses; and 4% often ride SunRail commuter trains. Despite what appears to be a massive invasion of downtown Orlando, only 3% often hop on an electric scooter.

The survey found that most people agree or strongly agree that Congress should replace the federal gas tax with a new way to fund transportation altogether. Breaking that down, 52% agreed with a mileage tax and 60% agreed that low-income drivers could be charged a lower rate per mile.

Nearly 96% of respondents agreed it is important for transportation planners to develop pedestrian-friendly communities in the future. “That’s amazing with almost every respondent in agreement,” Vega said.

But the future isn’t here yet and 52% of cyclists don’t feel safe on roads today because of cars and 43% don’t like the weather. Of pedestrians, 36% don’t feel safe because of cars, 36% said sidewalks are lacking and 27% said it takes too long to get a walk signal at intersections.

A third of respondents said its OK to speed when the roads are clear and nearly 19% said they drive 10, 15, 20, or even 25 mph over the speed limit most of the time. “This is what they said they do on a routine basis,” Vega said.

Broken down, 39% said they go 5 mph over the limit, 13% said 10 mph over, 2% go 15 mph over the limit, 2% go 20 mph over and 2% top the limit by 20 mph.

Nearly 43% of speeding drivers said they had a close call in the past year.

“We asked a follow-up question: ‘Was the close call your fault?’” Vega said. “Over half of them said ‘oh yeah, it was my fault’.”

Nearly 44% said they would consider buying an electric car within the next three years and 77% said they would within 10 years.

With the pending rise of autonomous cars, 44% said they would go to work in a driverless car. That compares to 29% who said the would rather summon a car with a driver and 27% said no way to either.

Finally, 51% of men, 38% of women, 43% of those with a high school degree or higher and 33% of those with less than a high school degree said they would ride in a driverless car. Nearly 51% of those under 35 and only 31% of those 65 and older said they would ride in a driverless car. – Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service

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