If you think American’s bad driving habits are getting worse and worse each day, you’re right. All you have to do is drive out on the highway and you see cars all over the road, vehicles changing lanes then back again with no warning. Statistics actually confirm those observations.
It’s not bad enough you get behind someone at a red light that turns green and they’re too busy on the phone to notice and hold up traffic. Even worse you’re behind someone on the road swerving all over the place crossing the center line and the line on the side while babbling on the phone.
People whose job requires them to keep track of such things warn that bad drivers have reached epidemic levels. Despite new high tech safety features in cars, the number of car accidents in several studies jumped at alarming rates.
Bad Driving on the Rise
Part of it is cell phones. Between 2011 and 2016 the number of drivers on the highways who had smartphones went from 50% to 88%. With smart phone in one hand, steering wheel in the other, bad drivers text, talk, browse the internet and otherwise fail to pay attention to the road ahead of them.
It is “an epidemic issue for this country”
State Auto Financial Corp. President Michael LaRocco, quoted in Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2017, p. 1.
The Wall Street Journal, known as a conservative reserved publication not prone to tabloid fare headlined one story, warning: “America’s Drivers are Becoming More Dangerous by the Day”
Five Signs Bad Driving Is Getting Worse
You observe bad driving every day. If you commute any distance for work, visiting family or recreation you’ve seen accidents. But here are the facts confirming the increase in bad driving:
- Teen drivers are distracted almost 25% of the time they’re behind the wheel of a car. AAA Foundation study cited below.
- Distractions of all types – reaching for a dropped item, attending to children in the back seat or eating – is blamed for nearly 10% of all traffic fatalities. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.
- Over 88% of drivers between 19 and 24 admit they’ve texted, run a red light, or exceeded the speed limit in a 30-day period. AAA Foundation study.
- The number of deadly accidents jumped 7.2% in 2015 and 6% in 2016 in two different studies by key transportation agencies. Wall Street Journal.
- Allstate, a major auto insurer, saw an 11% increase in car insurance rates between 2014 and 2016. It’s president told stockholders the correlation between smartphone ownership and accident frequency is striking. Bloomburg.com, March 3, 2017,
Bad Driving: What Can You Do?
The opposite of distracted driving is attentive driving, paying attention behind the wheel at all times. We’ve described specific defensive driving habits in another blog post. Common sense tells us that those who pay attention behind the wheel face lower likelihood of getting into an accident.
One insurance company executive warns:
“Distracted driving was always there but it just intensified as more applications for the smartphones became available.”
Horace Mann Insurance Company Executive Vice President, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2017
Others warn that proliferation of new technology provides an infinitely higher variety of ways drivers can be distracted. Where people once used cell phones simply to talk, now they update social media, make dinner reservations, get directions, take video and pursue other distractions.
Strictly speaking, you shouldn’t be using your phone in the car at all, but if you really needed to make an emergency phone call, or get directions, then you may want to mount your phone while driving in a phone holder, or pull over into a safe place, to ensure that you still have your eyes firmly on the road, as well as both hands on the steering wheel. Not only will you be keeping yourself safe, but you will also be protecting other road users too.
Bad driving habits behind the wheel go beyond the electronic. A Chicago Times columnist reports seeing a man brushing his teeth while driving along an expressway.
Being injured in a car accident can place substantial burdens on both those injured themselves but also on family members. The burden is physical and financial. Do lot let someone else’s bad driving as it caused your accident to disrupt your life any more than it must. An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney understands your loss and ensures that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our offices have handled accident claims for over 25 years.
Complaining About Higher Auto Insurance Rates? Put Down Your Cellphone, Reed, Robert, Chicago Tribune, March 3, 2017.
Distracted Driving, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Distracted Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Smartphone Use Lifts Car-Insurance Rates, Wall Street Journal, p. 1, February 21, 2017.
Bloomberg.com, Robert Reed, Column, March 3, 2017.