Car accidents killed 42,060 people last year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). That is a rise from 39,107 the year before. Car accidents neared 6 million, and the cost of these accidents is close to $1 trillion.
Several solutions to lower the number of accidents have been suggested. First is more effort to curb drunk driving. This has been successful over the past two decades, but many experts believe more can be done. Another solution is to improve dangerous parts of highways where accidents are frequent. Still, another is to require sophisticated safety features on cars.
Over time, technology could bring down accident rates. However, autonomous cars available to the broader public could be several years away.
To identify the other state where reckless driving has increased most since the onset of the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data compiled by Insurif, an auto insurance comparison site, based on their database of over 2.5 million car insurance applicants. Relative increase in driving was determined based on the period between March 30 and September 12 of 2020. The average national rate of increase was 211%.
Reckless driving rates tend to be higher in sparsely populated areas. This may be because drivers are less inclined to pay attention to the road or obey traffic laws when there are fewer people around them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities involve speeding, something drivers are more inclined to do when there are fewer drivers on the road.
Driving under the influence has long been another factor in reckless driving. The first state DUI laws were passed around the time the mass-produced Model T was introduced in 1908. States have different laws regarding seat belts, but reckless drivers and their passengers often forgo using them. With the wide embrace of smartphones, distracted driving through the manipulation of hand-held devices (e.g., texting or scrolling Twitter) has become the latest cause of recklessness on the road.
The state with the most reckless drivers is Virginia. Here are the details:
- Reckless driving violations: 66 per 10,000 drivers
- Increase in driving: 180%
- Traffic fatalities in 2019: One per 10,000 (18th lowest)
- Population density: 216.1 people per square mile
- Population: 8,535,519