Car crashes caused approximately 38,800 deaths in the United States in a single recent year, according to the National Safety Council. These crashes also caused more than 4 million serious injuries.
The fact is that most car accidents are preventable. Most drivers understand that risky behavior, such as driving while texting or after drinking, are behind such accidents. Nonetheless, many drivers still engage in these same behaviors.
To minimize the damage and losses caused by car accidents in our country, it is important for drivers to understand the impact of risky driving behavior and how to avoid it when behind the wheel.
Bad Behavior While Behind the Wheel
The vast majority of car accidents in the U.S. result from human error. In other words, these accidents could have been prevented if one of the drivers involved had not engaged in risky or careless behavior.
With drivers texting, taking phone calls, speeding, driving under the influence, and feeling exhausted behind the wheel, the roads can become a very dangerous place. Even though most drivers are aware of the risks that these behaviors pose, they still tend to partake in one or more of them. For instance, the leading cause of preventable accidents – distracted driving – is also the most common risk taken by drivers, even though it is known to dramatically heighten the chance of an accident.
This trend holds true for drivers who have recently been involved in a crash themselves. A AAA study found that drivers who had been in recent accidents were also more likely to report that they had engaged in risky driving behaviors in the month prior to taking the survey.
For example, 43% of the respondents who had been in a crash admitted to texting while driving in the previous month, compared to 27% of respondents who hadn’t been in a recent crash. Meanwhile, 96% of all respondents said they considered typing or texting while driving to be very dangerous. Clearly, drivers’ behaviors don’t always match up with their beliefs about safety.
Why Drivers Still Do Risky Behavior
The statistics above prompt the question: Why do drivers engage in risky behavior despite knowing the dangers involved? The truth is that there is no single answer to this question – but there are a few common reasons that drivers take unnecessary risks behind the wheel. Here are some of them:
- Showing off – Some drivers like to make a show of their speed or maneuvering skills to other cars on the highway. Others might be showing off for passengers in their car. This is a particularly common phenomenon for teenage drivers, who have a dangerous tendency to try to impress their friends while giving rides.
- Road rage/frustration – Most drivers are familiar with the feeling of road rage or frustration toward others on the road. Unfortunately, when these feelings aren’t controlled, they can lead to risky behavior such as brake-checking, cut-offs, or sudden speeding around other cars.
- Feeling rushed – When someone is running late to an important meeting or plans with friends, it can be all too tempting to drive faster than is safe. Whether this means stepping down on the gas pedal or rushing through yellow or even red lights, it always poses a risk to roadway safety.
- Feeling invincible – Many drivers can feel invincible when they get behind the wheel. It can be hard for drivers to imagine themselves being involved in a car accident, especially if they have never been in one before. This feeling of invincibility encourages many risky behaviors.
Types of Risky Behavior
There are many different types of risky driving behaviors. In general, these behaviors can be broken down into distracted, tired, aggressive, and impaired driving. For example, texting while driving exemplifies distracted driving, while speeding is a form of aggressive driving.
Learning to recognize risky behavior in all of its forms can help drivers acknowledge and change their own dangerous habits. Here is a list of some specific, prevalent types of risky behavior behind the wheel:
- Reading or sending texts
- Answering or making phone calls
- Driving while drunk
- Driving while on drugs (including prescription drugs that impair senses or judgment)
- Driving while fatigued
- Running red lights
- Tailgating another car
- Making sudden lane changes
- Brake-checking (pulling in front of someone and braking hard)
- Cutting off other vehicles
- Failing to yield right-of-way
Risky Driving Car Safety
Here are a few tips to help minimize risky behaviors and promote safety on the roads:
- Keep the phone out of sight. If your phone is turned off, set to airplane mode, or safely stowed out of sight, you are much less likely to be tempted to use it. Many drivers pick up their phones instinctively when they see that a call, text, or email has rolled in. To avoid this knee-jerk reaction, keep your phone out of sight and out of mind.
- Drive sober. It is far too easy to misjudge your ability to drive after a drink or a few drinks. Alcohol impairs your judgment and makes you more likely to feel overly confident in your driving abilities, even when it is extremely unsafe for you to get behind the wheel. It is always best to plan to drive sober or, if you plan to drink alcohol, arrange for another ride to take you wherever you’re going.
- Remain alert. Always make sure that you are sufficiently energized and alert before hitting the road, and take frequent rest breaks once you’re underway. Safe driving requires you to be able to react quickly to new situations. If you feel exhausted and drowsy as you roll down the highway, you aren’t likely to retain this ability. It is crucial to do your best to remain alert and, if necessary, know when to pull over for a break from driving.
- Don’t speed. We have all felt the urge to speed while driving. However, it is important to work to resist this urge. Remember that the time you can make up by speeding is likely minimal, and certainly not worth the risk of causing a high-speed, potentially fatal accident.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Now
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s risky behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact the skilled car accident lawyers at Parnall Law for assistance with your case. Even if you are unsure of whether your situation merits legal action, we will lend an experienced ear to help you determine the best path forward.
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