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Young Male Motorists are Driving More Recklessly During the COVID-19 Pandemic

November 4, 2020

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, face coverings, social distancing, and remote work and learning have become normal. Additionally, the current health crisis has had a surprising impact on driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released crash data, and unsafe driving behaviors has increased since the start of the pandemic. After reviewing the car accident data, the NHTSA found that drivers used drugs and alcohol more often and wore seat belts less often in the early months of the pandemic.

Also, the data revealed that young males in rural areas who were involved in fatal crashes had the highest number of positive drugs and alcohol tests. Virginia drivers should learn what they can do to prevent wrecks and what steps are necessary after accidents.

What are the Results of the Recent Report?

The NHTSA report was released in early October, and it confirmed that the nation’s roads are significantly more hazardous now than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deaths per mile increased, and more motorists were killed due to drunk driving or drugged driving.

Crash victims’ blood samples suggests that there is a significant increase in intoxicated drivers. The percentage of drivers who tested positive for alcohol went from 21.3 percent in mid-March to 26.9 percent. Opioid use in fatal crashes went from 7.6 percent to 12.9 percent. Cannabis usage rose from 21.4 percent to 31.2 percent.

Males were more likely to drive unsafely compared to females, and crashes involving drugs and alcohol happened more often on the weekends. The NHTSA also determined more drivers were speeding during the early months of the pandemic, and fewer motorists used seat belts.

What are the Most Common Unsafe Driving Behaviors?

The choice to drive recklessly endangers all motorists, passengers, and pedestrians on the road. Some common risky driving behaviors include:

Aggressive Driving

Any unsafe driving behavior that is committed deliberately is considered aggressive. Some behaviors that aggressive drivers exhibit include:

  • Braking or stopping short in front of other motorists
  • Blocking other vehicles from merging, passing, or turning
  • Changing lanes and turning without signaling
  • Running red lights
  • Speeding in heavy traffic
  • Tailgating
  • Flashing headlights or high beams to intimidate other drivers
  • Weaving in and out of traffic

Besides the risk of a collision, anger between drivers can escalate to road rage assaults and attacks that leave individuals with serious or fatal injuries.

Additionally, it is more than likely every driver has acted aggressively at some point. According a study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, 80 percent of the study participants admitted to expressing considerable aggression or road rage at least once during the previous year.

Drunk Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,278 people were killed in drunk driving wrecks in Virginia between 2009 and 2018. Drunk driving fatality rates across Virginia are slightly lower than the national average, but it is important that drunk driving is prevented.

Drugged Driving

Whether it is an illegal or legal drug, it can change the way a person drives in various ways. Not all drugs affect the brain in the same way. For example, marijuana alters a person’s perception of time and distance and slows down reaction time. Other drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamines, tend to speed up the system and make drivers more likely to speed and drive aggressively. Even prescription medications, like opioids and benzodiazepines, can impact driving, causing the motorist to become dizzy, drowsy, or disoriented.

Distracted Driving

Every day in the United States, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving accidents. Distractions include applying makeup, eating, phone use, and talking to passengers. Any activity that takes a driver’s focus off the road is a distraction. Virginia drivers can prevent distracted driving wrecks by pledging to go hands-free and by maintaining focus behind the wheel.

Virginia Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

Reckless driving laws and penalties vary from state to state. In Virginia, reckless driving is considered exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 20 miler per hour or exceeding 80 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit.

In Virginia, reckless driving is a serious offense, and it is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties can include $2,500 in fines, a license suspension of up to six months, and 12 months in jail. Most aggressive driving offenses also come with six points on a license, increasing insurance rates and penalties for subsequent offenses.

Why is the COVID-19 Pandemic Changing Driving Behaviors?

Increased isolation and uncertainty about the future has left many individuals experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and other mental health issues. Without help, many abuse alcohol and drugs and engage in other destructive behaviors, including reckless driving. Anyone having trouble coping should reach out to a trusted friend or family member and seek help from a mental health professional.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

Anyone injured by a careless driver should carefully document the accident details. In many cases, it is the photographs and videos of the accident scene, the injured party’s medical reports, and eyewitness testimonies that confirm the at-fault driver was engaging in unsafe driving behaviors.

At the accident scene, the victim should obtain a police report and get contact information from everyone. It is never a good idea to speak with the other party’s insurance company without the guidance of a lawyer. If a driver is clearly responsible for the wreck, they will likely offer a settlement that may be less than what an injured driver could recover through litigation.

Proving Reckless Driving in Virginia

In reckless driving cases, the Commonwealth bears the burden of proof, meaning that the state has the task of proving the defendant operated their vehicle in an unsafe manner that endangered others. When someone is charged with reckless driving because of speeding, exceeding the speed level alone is considered reckless, even if the person was otherwise driving safely. Every driver needs to always practice safety and follow the rules of the road. Even if no one gets hurt, driving aggressively is still considered a crime in Virginia.

The increase in unsafe driving reflects the anxiety and frustration many are feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any motorist injured by a negligent driver has legal options.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Protect Victims Injured by Unsafe Drivers

If a negligent driver caused your accident and injuries, one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers can help. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, our team provides superior legal representation to every client. We can help you collect compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 757-352-2237. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.

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Virginia Beach VA 23452
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