Traffic accident fatalities in Georgia and around the country have risen worryingly in recent years, and many road safety experts say reckless and aggressive driving is to blame. These experts believe drivers picked up dangerous habits in 2020 when travel restrictions reduced traffic levels by 40%. Fatalities rose by 8% in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled rose by 21%. In 2021, the 10.5% rise in road deaths was the largest year-over-year increase reported by NHTSA since 1975.
The NHTSA figures suggest that reckless and dangerous driving is becoming far more common. Pedestrian and cyclist deaths both rose sharply in 2020 and 2021, and speed-related fatalities rose by 11% in 2020 and 5% in 2021. Drunk driving is also on the rise. The number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents involving an impaired motorist increased by 9% in 2020 and 5% in 2021.
These statistics paint a worrying picture. Empty roads gave drivers an opportunity to take risks, and that has led to a wave of reckless and dangerous driving. When the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveyed American drivers in late 2020, many of the respondents admitted to taking unnecessary risks in the previous 30 days. After studying the responses, the AAA researchers noticed that drivers who did not stay at home in 2020 were more likely to take risks like speeding, driving aggressively and getting behind the wheel while impaired.
Bad habits must be broken
The bad habits that are making the nation’s roads more dangerous can only be broken by vigorous law enforcement and harsh penalties. Until motorists face lengthy driving bans for engaging in reckless behavior that endangers all road users, the yearly accident fatality reports will continue to make grim reading.