COVID-19 both changed and divided the nation. Pro-vax and anti-vax camps clashed. Mask mandates only added to the rancor.
Yet, if there is one thing both sides can agree with is that the pandemic changed the world.
The rise in careless, reckless, and negligent driving
In the United States, the change took a decidedly deadly form. Driving habits became reckless, leading to a growth in fatalities. To date, far too many have yet to slow down when traveling. Shelter-at-home and telecommuting made once bustling freeways veritable ghost towns.
Yet, those who were driving saw the lack of congestion as an open invitation to operate their vehicles well above posted speed limits. That trend resulted in car accident deaths on empty roads rising seven percent in 2020. The soaring number of fatalities was the result of speeding, alcohol, and unbelted drivers and passengers.
Drivers involved in fatal crashes with all three factors increased by 20 percent. Those 18 to 20 who died with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 and higher skyrocketed 40 percent.
Deaths continue to grow
Last year saw 43,000 deaths nationwide due to reckless, negligent, and impaired driving. Speeding-related deaths increased by five percent. Deaths due to lack of seatbelt use rose by three percent. Police-reported accidents as a result of alcohol use grew five percent.
Fast forward to today, the habit continues to be hard to break, with dangerous driving becoming the latest “new normal.”
Whether this dangerous and deadly trend is temporary or permanent, drivers need to take extra precautions while operating their vehicles. Sadly, it may not be enough to stem the tide of dangerous driving, resulting in preventable deaths.