The last few months have been a period of stress and adjustment for individuals and businesses across the United States. Some of the changes that people have to adjust to are temporary, while others will likely have long-term consequences.
After a temporary downturn in the amount of time and miles that people drove, Americans are back at the wheel and trying to get where they need to go. Unfortunately, research makes it clear that all of the stress from other areas of life are having an impact on driving as well. People’s driving practices are getting worse, which means you may be at increased risk for a crash.
Americans are letting their stress impact their safety
Driving less for several months means that many people are somewhat out-of-practice with getting where they need to go safely. You might think that drivers would overcompensate for their rusty skills with more careful behavior at the wheel, but you’d be wrong. An analysis of driving data shows that drivers are being less safe in recent months than before.
People are also acting more stressed at the wheel, which is surely adding to the issues. People seem to drive more dangerously because of how stressed they feel. An analysis of driving behavior shows that since February 2020, speeding has increased by 27%, phone usage while driving is up 38% and hard braking is up 25%.
Each of these factors is dangerous on its own, but a 25% or higher increase in all three of these dangerous habits is noteworthy. The combination of more aggressive braking, higher speeds and more distraction will inevitably result in worse and more car crashes.
Now is not the time for driving complacency
Driving may be a time-consuming task that feels tedious, but it is a safety-critical activity. Don’t fall victim to the dangerous game of pretending that nothing has changed. You need to accept and acknowledge that driving is different and adjust your behavior accordingly.
Try to avoid using your phone while driving, speeding and aggressive braking if possible. Keep a close watch on other drivers, and know your rights if someone causes a crash that damages your vehicle or hurts you.