Posted on October 15th, 2020 by Zane Cagle
Car crashes have continued to increase even when traffic was reduced across the metro area by 40% for many months due to Covid. We are now seeing traffic increasing with the reopening of businesses and schools. As it stands, roadway travel across Missouri is more than just customarily risky. We all need to evaluate whether we are helping to reduce the number of crashes or participating in the increase. No one wants to be in a crash, but are you doing things on a daily basis to keep yourself and others safe? Does it seem like other drivers are less patient and angrier? Do You feel more irritable and less patient? We are all feeling additional pressures of the virus, economic, and political turbulence; it could be reflected in our driving. We can do something about it if we recognize that it is happening.
Increased road congestion can be the scenario where we see increased aggressiveness, frustration and sometimes, all out road rage. According to drivers, driving is one of the most risky things they do on a daily basis. Thus, we should not be adding aggressive, dangerous behaviors to an already daily risk. The number of car accidents has not gone down across the state of Missouri in spite of greatly reduced traffic numbers since March.
While some risk is assumed and car accidents occur too frequently, we should question if we are becoming more aggressive and generally less tolerant of other drivers in day-to-day traffic. For all of us to be safe on the roadways, we each have to take a breath, slow down, and find some patience. Simple traffic frustrations can result in excessive honking, hand gestures and can escalate to property damage and physical injury. It is not worth it.
Signs that you Might be an Aggressive Driver
Most of us like to think we are safe drivers, but do you ever engage in aggressive driving behaviors? If you engage in the below driving behaviors in the heat of traffic, you may want to reconsider the safety of those choices.
Aggressive driving–speeding, failing to yield the right of way, reckless driving and failing to obey traffic signs and signals.
Speeding Are you are always short on time, in a rush, and annoyed by traffic? You have places to go—so, do you find yourself frequently speeding? Being annoyed in traffic does not mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Traffic jams can be irritating. Gauge yourself. Do you seem to be mad every time you are in traffic? If so, it is something that you have to think about and address in your driving behavior for your safety and others.
Never or Rarely Yielding the Right-of-Way. It is always your turn? When someone hesitates, do you gun it? Do you feel that the whole world is full of incompetent drivers? One has to ask, is it really the whole world that cannot driver or is it me?
Weaving. Frequent and unsafe lane changes may be a part of your every day life whether it is you or other drivers–it’s dangerous. Do you view opportunities to cross lanes as a way to get ahead of schedule? Do you become irritated when you are not able to weave or change multiple lanes? Do you frequently pass on the left? Some drivers may think of this as efficiency. Do you sometimes feel that your driving talents were wasted when you did not become a race car driver? Weaving is hands down a great way to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Failing to Signal Last minutes turns and lane changes can make signaling an after thought. When drivers fail to use a signal, they are expecting other drivers to read their minds. In a system built on signals and signs, failing to signal can cause crashes.
Tailgating Maybe you feel you are never close enough because someone else is always in your way? You may even use flashing lights and horn to get people to move. If you are a tail gaiter, then you may have problems when other vehicles need to stop. Tailgating is the number one cause of rear-end collisions.
The Horn The horn is not an anger management tool. However, if you’ve been in traffic, it often seems like the horn is the single most popular way of expressing displeasure with other drivers. If you hit the horn frequently, maybe you need to consider what you are really expressing. Most of the time, we hit the horn to let the person in front of us know that they SHOULD GO! But, ultimately, using your horn to honk at other drivers with disdain rarely solves the problem. Few people are encouraged to reflect on their driving performance based on someone honking at them. Meaning, excessive honking is usually viewed as aggressive and confrontational rather than educational.
Lane Blocking Deliberating preventing someone from merging or changing lanes often facilitates crashes. This behavior is particularity ironic as most aggressive drivers believe that blocking the passing lane should be a corporal offense.
If you recognize yourself in these driving behaviors, then maybe re-evaluating your driving might be important. These aggressive driving behaviors create ideal circumstances for a serious crash. Imagine if you will, that you are involved in a fatal car accident where you are at fault due to speeding, lane blocking, improper passing, failing to signal or tail gating. The idea that you might be the reason or cause of injury or death is very sobering.
MO Road Fatalities Rose in 2nd Quarter During Decreased Traffic
Passenger traffic plummeted due to Covid-19 in March. However, according to Missouri State Highway troopers, there was actually a 3 percent increase in traffic fatalities. While traffic picked back up toward the end of April, crashes have been on the rise. During the lock down, many troopers warned of drivers simply driving way too fast. Often, troopers would clock individuals traveling 90-120 mph. Increasing speeds leads to the likelihood of serious injury and death. “We know the faster that you’re going when you have a traffic crash, the more severe that crash is going to be. there is no way around it, we can’t cheat the laws of physics,” said Captain Hotz. As well, three MoDOT trucks have been struck by motorists during the falling traffic volumes.
Year-to-date traffic fatalities are high for the 2nd quarter. The first quarter fatalities in MO reached 178 which is higher than last year’s first quarter number. The second quarter in 2020 resulted in 264 fatalities when traffic was not as heavy. The second quarter of 2019 had 214 fatalities, so an increase of 50 fatalities in reduced traffic. Unless driving behaviors change, this increase in crashes will continue.
Most Common Characteristics of Fatal Crashes
For reporting sake, MoDOT classified characteristics of fatal crashes often including the following:
- Unrestrained occupants
- Failure to negotiate curves,
- Single vehicles running off the roadway,
- Intersection crashes,
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving and driving under the influence.
In 2019, we did not see significant drops in any category. Unrestrained occupants continue to be a frequent factor in fatal crashes. Wearing a seat belt keeps occupants in the vehicle and increases likelihood of survival should you be in a crash.
At The Cagle Law Firm, we see that inattentive driving is the number one cause of crashes in general. Inattentive driving is any behavior that takes your eyes and attention off of the roadway. Aggressive driving such as being overly impatient, tailgating other drivers and failing to yield can result in serious injury to all motorists. Maybe you think the descriptions of aggressive driving is simply rush-hour etiquette? Actually, we see an increase in aggressive driving where people are on the edge and angry.
Be patient. Take a breath or two. All of us become frustrated in traffic occasionally but you should remember how fast it can turn into something more violent.Engaging in a confrontation on the roadway is one of the most dangerous things that you can do. Breathe and gain some perspective. We want you to get to your destination without a crash. If you think you are running late, think about how inconvenient that car crash will be? Specifically, if you are hurt, you will spend quite a bit of time seeking medical treatment. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone driving aggressively, you will need an attorney.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, then you have questions. Our attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm, we can help you with those questions. There are common mistakes that you do not want to make right after a crash especially when it comes to dealing with auto insurance carriers.