Top Unsafe Driving Behaviors Such as Distracted Driving

According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Association), unsafe driving causes about 3,000 deaths per year in the US. 

What is Unsafe Driving

Unsafe driving or reckless driving is defined differently as per jurisdictions. In the US, every state has its own criteria to define reckless driving or unsafe driving

For example, 

The state of Florida defines reckless driving as follows:

(a) Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(b) Fleeing a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle is reckless driving per se.

On the other  hand, the state of New York defines unsafe driving in the following manner:
Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle, or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway. 

Similarly, each state has a different punishment for Reckless driving as well. 

In this article, we will read about the topmost unsafe driving behaviors that lead to reckless driving.

1. Distracted or Inattentive Driving

Distraction or inattentiveness is one of the most common causes of reckless driving that lead to accidents. There are many reasons why one might be distracted while driving. The top reasons are as follows:

  • Texting or talking on the phone
  • Adjusting routes on GPS
  • Applying makeup
  • Talking to fellow passengers
  • Handling children or pets

While some of these reasons are difficult to curb, others can easily be avoided by following some basic rules while driving. For example, using handsfree to talk on the phone is a safer alternative to talking directly from the handset. For any other distractions, it is important to pull aside before addressing the same.

Texting while driving can lead to unprecedented road accidents.
Driver distraction caused by texting

2. Unsafe Lane Changes

Unsafe lane change is a very important contributor to highway accidents. Lane changing is often prohibited in stretches that are historically known to be accident-prone. While changing lanes, it is important to acknowledge the speed of other vehicles whose route might get impacted. It is best to avoid lane changing when there are other speeding vehicles closeby. 

3. Disobeying Traffic Rules

Disobedience to traffic rules is a concern across all states. Speeding or driving above the speed limit is the most common form of traffic rule violation. 

As per NHTSA, speeding causes over 9000 deaths a year. In the US, about 12% of drivers today have at least one violation against their name. There are about 2% who have had licenses suspended due to speeding. Amongst the states, Virginia fares the worst when it comes to speeding violations with almost 18% of motorists having a prior speeding ticket. It’s closely followed by Iowa, Ohio, South Carolina, and North Dakota.

4. Driving While Intoxicated

In the United States, crashes due to drunk driving or intoxicated driving kills 1 person every 52 minutes. This is despite strong regulations against intoxicated driving in all states! Alcohol impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. All these skills are needed for driving. Thus even a small amount of alcohol in the blood can adversely impact driving safety immensely. 

The alcohol level is measured as a factor of the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. It is called Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC., Crash risk increases substantially At and above BAC of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (g/dL) of blood Thus most states in the US prohibit driving with a blood-alcohol level above  .08 BAC.

5. Failure to Slow Down Or Stop

Failure to slow down or stop is another important cause of accidents (especially in highway conditions). On the highways, a vehicle is expected to ply at high speed. However, there may be a need to slow down sharply (for example, the car ahead in the same lane stops abruptly). Not being able to slow down at the right time can cause accidents or crashes. The best way to avert such accidents would be to maintain a safe distance from the nearest vehicle on your lane. The distance would depend on the speed at which you are driving. Higher the speed, the higher the distance.

Reduce Unsafe Driving Using Telematics

In recent years, all the stakeholders of the automobile industry (e.g. Automobile makers, insurance companies, driving schools) are actively evaluating solutions based on telematics to cut down on accidents due to unsafe driving

What is Telematics?

It is a combination of telecommunication with informatics (computer-based analytics). At its very base, a telematics solution requires a method to track the movement of a vehicle. The movement is then analyzed to arrive at precise insights (e.g. driving pattern). 

Traditionally, telematics required GPS to be installed in the vehicle. Today we have an alternative in the form of mobile telematics. In this case, instead of tracking the vehicle using an inbuilt GPS, we track the driver’s movement based on the phone GPS.

The advancements in mobile telematics, powered by companies like Damoov, have led to several innovative applications that focus on reducing unsafe driving. Examples would be telematics-based smart insurance products that reward safe driving in the form of improved premiums.

FAQs About Unsafe Driving & Accidents

What are the global Automobile accident statistics?

Global Automobile Accident Statistics is compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO). As per WHO approximately 1.3 million people die each year due to road accidents. Road traffic crashes cost most countries about 3% of their GDP. WHO is working on a target to half road accidents by 2030.

How can automobile accidents be prevented?

Automobile accidents can be prevented by regulations, the self-discipline of drivers, and innovation using the latest technologies such as mobile telematics.

Which Countries or States have enforced a ban on mobile phone use during driving?

Israel, Japan, Portugal & Singapore are some of the countries that have banned any form of mobile phone use while driving

Other countries like Australia, China, Germany, etc., have a ban on using handheld mobile phones while driving

The 6 US states- California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington along the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from talking on handheld cell phones while driving.

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