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Study finds 1 in 6 Minnesota drivers are a 'high risk' danger on the road

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When a survey in January ranked Minnesota as having the "safest drivers" in the country, it was greeted with skepticism among some.

It looks as if this skepticism was justified, as a new study for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has found one in six Minnesotans are considered "high-risk" drivers.

It follows a survey of 1,570 drivers last year, and those who are classed as high risk either admitted to drinking and driving, or doing a combination of two of the following things while driving in the past 30 days:

  • Driving after having at least two alcoholic drinks.
  • Driving without a seatbelt on at least one occasion.
  • Speeding: Driving 10 miles per hour or faster than the posted speed limit "more than half the time."
  • Texting or accessing the Internet while driving at least once.

Some 16 percent of Minnesotans responding to the survey were found to be high risk. A further 28 percent admitted doing one of these things (moderate risk) while 57 percent did none of them (low risk).

The in-depth report, which was presented by the state's Office of Traffic Safety at a Lifesavers National Conference in Chicago on Monday, also points out that more than half of high-risk drivers consider themselves to be "above-average" behind the wheel, and less likely than others to be involved in a crash.

But the study found high-risk drivers are disproportionately more likely to be involved in a crash, concluding that these drivers "have an inflated estimation of their own driving abilities."

The Star Tribune reports three in five drivers who admitted to drinking before taking to the roads felt they could handle the alcohol and saw no problem with it.

Half of speeders said the same, but most of those driving without a seat belt or who text or use the Internet behind the wheel knew they shouldn't, the newspaper notes.

Who are high-risk drivers?

Analysis of the survey found high-risk drivers are most likely to be employed males, with an average age of 38.

They are said to have personality traits which include thrillseeking, competitiveness, stubbornness and being impatient, and are more likely to use the Internet and listen to the radio than watch TV and read newspapers.

The average age of low-risk drivers is 51, and they are more likely to be women and retired.

The report notes enforcement is strong way of changing these behaviors, with those who said they had changed their behavior said they did so after being hit with tickets or arrests.

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