New Study Shows Dangerous Driving Behaviors Increasing
After a steady decline in risky driving behavior, a new report from AAA reveals a disturbing increase in self-reported dangerous actions behind the wheel – reversing the downward trend of the past few years. The most alarming out of the many behaviors reported was a drastic increase in the amount of drunk driving. Others included a variety of reckless driving activities, all reported by the drivers themselves.
The report, from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, surveyed drivers nationwide regarding their driving behaviors for the previous 30 days, and found that unsafe driving rose dramatically from 2020 to 2021. Per AAA, “The most alarming increase was among drivers admitting to getting behind the wheel after drinking enough that they felt they were over the legal limit – an increase of nearly 24%.”
Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, adds:
The reversal in the frequency of U.S. drivers engaging in risky driving behavior is disturbing. While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel – like speeding and driving impaired, are not safe, many still engage in these activities anyway. We must be aware of the serious consequences of dangerous driving behaviors and change course.
The full report can be found here.
“The privilege of driving comes with great responsibility”
What is interesting about AAA’s annual driver survey is that these driving behaviors are self-reported, meaning people know they are wrong, yet they do them anyway. For example, respondents overwhelmingly believe that aggressive driving or texting while driving is dangerous, but approximately one-quarter admitted to doing so themselves.
Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, notes that that driving is a privilege and comes with great responsibility, and adds that “that reinforcing safe behavior with someone we know can influence them to change, so on our next ride with a passenger, let’s show them how it’s done safely.”
Following are the percentage of respondents who engaged in unsafe driving behaviors. Every category increased since 2020:
- Driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway – 50.7
- Driven while holding and talking on a cell phone – 37.4
- Driven while reading a text or email on a cell phone – 36.2
- Driven through a red light – 28.2
- Driven aggressively by switching lanes quickly or very close behind another car – 22.9
- Driven when so tired it was hard to keep eyes open – 18.8
- Driven when you had enough alcohol that you thought you were over the legal limit – 7.3
- Driven within an hour of consuming cannabis – 5.0
AAA also offers tips for driving more responsibly. We likewise offer these tips to you – not because we think you are a bad driver, but because we want you to understand that most “accidents” are actually preventable.
Our Huntsville lawyers can help when someone else’s negligent driving caused your car accident and injuries. All motorists should keep the following in mind:
- Put your phone away or somewhere you are not tempted to handle it. This can include setting it to “Do Not Disturb,” putting it on Airplane mode, or put a passenger in charge. Distracted driving causes accidents.
- Take your foot off the gas. Many drivers are tempted to speed when they are running late, when frustrated by traffic delays, or simply because they are reckless driving. Drive Safe Alabama reports speeding is the top contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle crashes.
- Stay awake and alert. If you feel sleepy or drowsy, do not get behind the wheel, or pull over and stop driving. Driving while fatigued has a negative effect on vision, judgement, and reaction time.
- Always drive sober. Driving under the influence, whether alcohol or drugs, is risky and increases the risk of fatal accidents. Per AAA, “If you are taking potentially impairing prescription medications, discuss with your doctor or pharmacist how best to stay safe AND healthy behind the wheel.”
- Buckle up. Drive Safe Alabama reports that in fatal crashes where seat belts were available, 58% of those killed were not wearing a seatbelt. Seat belts are one of the most proven, effective ways to survive a car accident.
If someone you love is killed in a car accident
When you lose a family member in a car crash caused by another’s dangerous or reckless driving, you have the right to file a wrongful death action against the negligent party. Here in Alabama, the only compensation available in a wrongful death lawsuit are punitive damages, which are meant to punish the offender for their actions and act as a deterrent against similar behavior in the future.
A jury decides on the appropriate amount of punitive damages, and our attorneys advocate for you and your family in court to ensure they do the right thing.
The team at Martin & Helms have a record of success in jury verdicts and settlements for wrongful death traffic accident cases, including:
- $7,000,000.00 Automobile Wreck – Distracted Company Driver. Settlement for a client who was injured and lost a loved one when her car was rear-ended at a high rate of speed by a distracted company driver.
- $5,200,000.00 – Tractor Trailer Wreck. Settlement for client who was injured and lost a loved one in a wreck caused by a fatigued truck driver.
- $4,000,000.00 – Automobile Wreck – Drunk Driver. Trial Court judgment against drunk driver for injuries suffered by our clients. Underinsured motorist insurer also paid an additional settlement of $600,000.00.
- $2,000,000.00 – Commercial Box Truck Wreck. Settlement for client who suffered severe injuries in a wreck caused by the driver of a large, commercial box truck who was driving under the influence of drugs.
With dangerous and reckless driving increasing here in Alabama and across the country, we predict a rise in traffic accidents as well. If you or a loved one are seriously injured in a crash with a negligent driver, the lawyers at Martin & Helms want to help. We have been providing aggressive representation to the people of Huntsville and Decatur for decades. To set up a free consultation, call our offices or fill out our contact form today. We also serve clients and families throughout North Alabama.
Choosing the right personal injury attorney is an important step in building a better future. You deserve a lawyer who works one-on-one with you, and who can develop a plan for you to move forward. When you choose Martin & Helms, you get Clay Martin and Tara Helms: experienced, compassionate counselors who put your best interests first. We invite you to read more about us.