In evaluating your car accident case, it is important to recognize that there are certain types of risk-taking behavior are more likely to cause crashes and injuries. These are some of the most dangerous driving actions, but they are by no means exhaustive. For example, egregious driving acts like aggressive driving (road rage) and tailgating are actually intended to threaten other drivers with harm and it is not listed here. Dangerous drivers and dangerous driving habits should be taken seriously. The only way to make our roads safer is to let people know that there are consequences for these acts.
Motorists involved in car accidents with drivers exhibiting these dangerous driving behaviors should recognize that punitive damages may be available in the case.
For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2019, speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities.
Speed also affects your safety even when you are driving at the posted speed limit but too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, when a road is under repair, or in an area at night that isn’t well lit.
- Twenty-six percent of fatal crashes, 12 percent of injury crashes, and 9 percent of property-damage-only crashes in 2019 were speeding-related.
- In 2019 there were 9,478 fatalities in crashes where at least one driver was speeding, 26 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year.
- In 2019 there were an estimated 326,000 people injured (12% of total people injured) in speeding-related crashes.
- The number of speeding-related fatalities in 2019 decreased by 1 percent from 2018, from 9,579 to 9,478.
- Thirty-one percent of male drivers in the 15- to 20-year-old age group and 18 percent of female drivers in the 21- to 24-year-old age group involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were speeding, the highest among the age groups.
- Among speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019, there were 26 percent who did not have valid driver licenses at the time of the crashes, compared to 12 percent of non-speeding drivers.
- Drivers who were speeding when involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were found to have blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 g/dL or greater (37% versus 15%)—or even higher BACs of .15 g/dL or greater (26% versus 10%)—than those drivers who were not speeding.
- Thirty-three percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were speeding, more than drivers of any other vehicle type.
- In fatal crashes in 2019 nearly half (47%) of speeding drivers of passenger vehicles were unrestrained at the time of crashes, compared to 21 percent of non-speeding passenger vehicle drivers.
- In 2019, when roadway function class was known, 86 percent of speeding-related fatalities occurred on non- interstate roadways.
Drowsy driving was reportedly involved in 2.3 to 2.5 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide from 2011 through 2015. In 2015, 2.3 percent (824) of the fatalities that occurred on U.S. roadways are reported to have involved drowsy driving. In 2015, the total number of fatalities increased by 7 percent compared to 2014, but the proportion reported to involve drowsy driving decreased, from 2.6 to 2.3 percent. The number of fatalities in crashes involving a drowsy driver between 2011 and 2015 has remained fairly constant, fluctuating between 2.3 percent of fatalities and 2.6 percent. Table 1 shows data for all fatal crashes, drivers involved, and fatalities involving drowsy driving from 2011 through 2015.
As compared to the fatal crash data from 2011 to 2015, drowsy driving is somewhat less prevalent in property-damage-only (PDO) crashes, constituting 1.0 to 1.2 percent of the total estimated PDO crashes. From 2011 to 2015, injury crashes involving drowsy driving have constituted 1.9 to 2.1 percent of the overall injury crashes. As shown in Table 2, an estimated 33,000 injury crashes with reports of drowsy drivers occurred in 2015 (1.9% of all injury crashes). Of all police-reported crashes that occurred in 2015 (fatal, injury, and property damage only), 1.4 percent involved reports of drowsy driving (90,000 out of 6.3 million crashes). Table 2 provides data for the 5 years 2011 to 2015 citing the overall number of crashes by crash severity and those that were reported to involve drowsy driving.
Drunk Driving (Driving Under the Influence/DUI)
Fatal crashes caused by drunk drivers have decreased by 2.0 percent from 2018 to 2019. The injury rate remained at 84 people injured per 100 million VMT from 2018 to 2019.
- The occupant fatality rate (including motorcyclists) per 100,000 population has declined by 47.5 percent from 1975 to 2019.
- The occupant injury rate (including motorcyclists) per 100,000 population, which declined by 45.1 percent from 1988 to 2015, decreased by 11.7 percent from 2016 to 2019.
- The nonoccupant fatality rate per 100,000 population has declined by 43.9 percent from 1975 to 2019.
- The nonoccupant injury rate per 100,000 population, which declined by 50.6 percent from 1988 to 2015, decreased by 15.7 percent from 2016 to 2019.
- The percent of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities has declined from 48 percent in 1982 to 28 percent in 2019. This 28 percent of overall fatalities is the lowest percentage since 1982, when NHTSA started reporting alcohol data.
Distracted Driving / Distracted Drivers
The percentage of passenger vehicle drivers talking on handheld phones decreased from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 2.6 percent in 2020 (Figure 1 and Table 1). The percentage of drivers speaking with visible headsets while driving did not change from 2019 to 2020; both years were 0.4 percent (Figure 1 and Table 2). Drivers’ visible manipulation of handheld devices decreased from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 2.8 percent in 2020 (Figure 1 and Table 3). These results are from the National Figure 1 Driver Use of Electronic Devices, 2011-2020 Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which provides the only nationwide probability-based observed data on driver electronic device use in the United States. NOPUS is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The percentages provided in this research note are interpreted as the percentage of drivers nationwide during an average daylight moment.
Distracted driving caused by phone usage is usually categorized according to whether the driver is “holding phones to their ears,” “speaking with visible headsets on,” and “visibly manipulating handheld devices.”
Drivers Holding Phones to Their Ears
While Driving The percentage of drivers holding cellphones to their ears while driving decreased from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 2.6 percent in 2020 (Figure 1 and Table 1). This translates to an estimated 354,415 passenger vehicle drivers holding cell phones to their ears while driving at a typical daylight moment in 2020. An estimated 7.9 percent of drivers were using some type of phone, either handheld or hands-free, at a typical daylight moment in 2020. Handheld cellphone use continued to be higher among female drivers than male drivers; however, the difference has been decreasing in recent years. In previous years handheld cellphone use was found to be highest among 16- to 24-year-old drivers and lowest among drivers 70 and older. However, in 2020 handheld cellphone use was highest among 25- to 69-year old drivers while remaining lowest among drivers 70 and older.
Drivers Speaking With Visible Headsets On While Driving shows the percentages of drivers speaking with visible headsets on while driving in 2019 and 2020, by major characteristics. The percentage of drivers speaking with visible headsets while driving remained the same; it was 0.4 percent in 2019 and 2020. There was no significant change in headset use from 2019 to 2020 for any age group.
Drivers Visibly Manipulating Handheld Devices While Driving
The percentage of drivers visibly manipulating handheld devices while driving decreased from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 2.8 percent in 2020. Driver manipulation of handheld devices continued to be higher among 16- to 24-year-olds than other age groups.
The data provided here is primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) site.