If it seems like drivers are getting more careless and thoughtless on the road, it’s not your imagination. Last year saw a surge in traffic fatalities across the U.S., due in large part to reckless driving.
That means increased risk for everyone on the road. It’s particularly dangerous for pedestrians who have nothing to protect against a driver who doesn’t see them.
The effect of “social disengagement”
Those who study traffic and human behavior (and the intersection of the two) attribute the rise in reckless driving to a number of factors that have made the last couple of years particularly difficult economically and emotionally for many of us. They note the fact that people haven’t been working or socializing together as much.
That “social disengagement,” as one doctor put it, can lead to anxiety, anger and other emotions that don’t lend themselves to safe driving. Add to that a rise in drinking and what the New York Times referred to as the “fraying of social norms,” and more crashes are bound to occur.
Even in 2020, when there was a big decrease in people on the road, the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles increased approximately 5% over the previous year. When you factor in the lower number of miles driven overall, that rate climbs to over 20%. Based on numbers from the first half of 2021, that trend continued.
“Bigger, faster and deadlier” vehicles
Another factor is the vehicles themselves. As one author who’s written about the “silent epidemic” of pedestrian fatalities put it, “Cars are getting bigger, faster and deadlier.” Pick-up trucks in particular are being made larger and heavier, with higher front ends that can make it difficult to see small pedestrians.
All of the new safety features designed to keep motorists safe can also cause them to be more careless. If you know your car will warn you if you drift outside your lane or if someone is coming up in your blind spot, you may be less likely to pay attention yourself.
Of course, in the end, if you were injured or a loved one was killed by a reckless driver, there is no excuse. You have a right to seek justice and compensation.