Why Dangerous Driving Is Surging in America

In the United States, more than 278 million personal and commercial vehicles were registered to drivers in 2022, reports Forbes. In that same year, an estimated 43,000 people (NHTSA) died on American roadways due to motor vehicle crashes. While that yearly number (the most recent statistical data) is slightly lower compared to 2021, we have unfortunately seen a trending uptick in dangerous driving in the United States that has resulted in a rise in destruction, injury, and death.

What Is Dangerous Driving?

Any type of driving that puts motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians at risk for injury or death is considered dangerous driving. An example of dangerous driving is distracted driving behaviors, such as cell phone use. The National Safety Council reported in 2020 that cell phone usage caused twelve percent of distraction-related fatal crashes. Distracted driving has had significant coverage in the media as incident rates due to driving while talking on the phone, texting, programming the GPS, and even eating have soared in the last ten years. 

Going along with distracted driving, typical dangerous driving behaviors include:

  • Driving at excessive speeds, usually 20 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances
  • Driving when excessively fatigued
  • Driving with a medical condition that could cause blackouts, impaired judgment, or affect reaction/decision abilities
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Tail-gating
  • Passing on the roadway shoulder or driving on the roadway shoulder

Why Dangerous Driving Is Increasing in America

Between 2010 and 2019, the number of motor vehicle deaths and serious injuries began to trend downward. Consistent seat belt usage was on the rise, thanks in part to awareness campaigns and widespread seat belt laws. During this time, we also saw improvements in technology by vehicle manufacturers that ranged from better crumble zones to anti-lock brakes and multiple airbags. Better technology has helped reduce injuries and death during motor vehicle crashes.

More recently, however, multiple factors have contributed to the rise of dangerous driving on American roadways, causing motorists to drive recklessly, ignore traffic laws, and engage in other potentially deadly behaviors when behind the wheel. A compelling factor is the aftereffects of COVID-19. Many drivers spent a significant time not driving and for those that did drive, the roads with less traffic became raceways to speed recklessly. In addition, alcohol and substance usage increased during lockdowns, leading to more driving under the influence.

From 2020 to 2022, the number of serious injuries and deaths in vehicular crashes increased. Dangerous driving appears to be the top reason for the increase in serious injuries and death from vehicular incidents.

According to the New York Times Magazine, from 2020 to 2021, the number of crashes in the United States increased sixteen percent to more than 16,000 a day. In 2021, nearly 43,000 Americans died in motor vehicle incidents—the highest number in more than a decade.

The majority of serious injuries or deaths from these motor vehicle crashes have been attributed to three main factors:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Intoxicated driving
  • Not wearing seatbelts

We continue to see a disturbing number of aggressive and dangerous drivers. The roads are congested with traffic as people commute to work and navigate their way through daily routines, most of which include a significant amount of time spent in a vehicle.

How to Combat Dangerous Driving

Experts suggest that many dangerous driving behaviors are due to emotional factors. Stress, worry, anger, exhaustion, hopelessness, and other feelings directly influence how individuals behave when behind the wheel. To combat dangerous driving, law enforcement agencies have to look at the whole picture. Community outreach, social programs, and police transparency can all help.

Action plans that include more enforcement on high-traffic roads, monitoring busy intersections, speed cameras, and RADAR speed displays can play an important role in the reduction of serious injuries and deaths from dangerous driving.

At Kustom Signals, we’re committed to helping your law enforcement agency be the best it can be. Talk to us about our RADAR, LIDAR, and speed awareness equipment and how it can be used to reduce dangerous driving in your community.

Related Articles