With about 287 million registered vehicles on U.S. roads — most of them private passenger cars — accidents are an unavoidable reality of modern life. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a high number of them that actually could be avoided, including those caused by knucklehead drivers who speed, weave in and out of traffic, and ignore other rules of the road.
One way to measure the incidents of reckless driving is to count the numbers of citations issued for reckless driving violations. Nationally, the rate averages about 18 per 10,000 drivers, according to one analysis of car insurance applications. But that rate is much lower in some states, and more than three times higher in North Dakota and Virginia — the latter of which is the state with the most reckless drivers. (And these are the most dangerous cities for driving.)
To determine this and identify the other states 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 30th and September 12th 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. (Your odds of being injured may decrease if you drive one of the safest new cars for 2021.)
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/or 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.