Dangerous Drivers are Not Always Reckless
However, some of the most dangerous drivers on the road are actually trying very hard to stay safe. Unfortunately, they lack the skill and judgment necessary to handle a vehicle safely in many situations for various reasons. That makes them dangerous behind the wheel. Read on to find out why teens, the elderly, and all new drivers may be the most dangerous on the roads.
Lack of Driving Experience Can Be Deadly
Driving a car or truck is a complex skill and not one that can be mastered in a six-week driver’s ed course. Even though states like Florida require drivers to log a certain number of practice hours before applying for a driver’s license, those hours do not provide nearly enough behind-the-wheel experience for a driver to develop the critical observation and judgment skills needed to drive safely.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reviewed crash data and found that crash rates for new drivers were similar regardless of whether the driver obtained their license as a younger teen or at an older age. Statistics show that as drivers gained more experience, crash rates declined.
It takes time to develop the judgment and coordination that drivers use to avoid car accidents. Drivers lacking these elements are therefore more dangerous on the roads.
Teen Drivers Pose an Especially Great Risk
Teen drivers are particularly dangerous on the roads because not only do they lack driving experience, they also lack fully developed brains. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health show that the human brain does not finish maturing until a driver reaches their mid to late 20s. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling impulses and prioritizing tasks, is one of the last parts of the brain to develop. That makes it harder for teens to evaluate the potential risks involved in their behaviors, and therefore more likely to make mistakes or try something they should not.
Teen drivers are more prone to actions such as:
- Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
- Getting distracted by passengers
- Failing to give enough attention to the road to detect hazards
- Drive when sleepy
- Refuse to wear a seatbelt
- Use a handheld device to change music or respond to communications
Some studies suggest that the risks drop considerably after teen drivers acquire 1,000 or more hours of independent driving experience. Parents can help teens reduce their risks by putting some restrictions on driving. For instance, they could refuse to allow a teen to carry other passengers or drive after certain hours at night.
Of course, when a teen driver’s lack of experience and judgment is combined with any alcohol or drug use, the risk of a car accident increases astronomically. By letting teens know that someone will be able to drive them home in any circumstances with no questions asked, parents could discourage teens from driving after drinking.
Older Drivers Could Be the Most Dangerous of All
Older drivers are not as likely to speed as younger drivers. This is because most of them have considerable experience behind the wheel. They’re not as conditioned to send constant text messages or set up new music playlists on their phones while driving. So what makes older drivers so dangerous?
The factors are numerous, and for the most part, they are an inevitable part of the aging process. Visual acuity decreases rapidly with age, particularly at night. Hearing and mobility also tend to decrease. Reaction time slows down. The result is that older drivers are less likely to perceive dangerous conditions and slower to react to them when they do. Unlike the factors that plague teen drivers, the factors that make older drivers dangerous will only worsen over time. In addition, many older drivers take various medications that can impair their driving acumen.
However, older drivers are used to driving, they rely on their ability to get around independently, and it can be hard for them to realize the extent to which their skills have diminished. Even when older drivers are involved in accidents caused, they frequently do not realize their own limitations and cause accidents simply by making a mistake.
Increasing the Safety Factor for Dangerous Drivers
Drivers, their loved ones, and governments can take specific steps to reduce the risks from non-reckless dangerous drivers. For example, more frequent testing of all drivers could help detect those with visual problems or other impairments that make them unsafe behind the wheel. Older drivers can reduce their risks by scheduling frequent vision exams, updating prescriptive lenses, and making sure to carry and use their eyeglasses when driving. In addition, it may be helpful to have a doctor review all medications to see which could affect driving, and only take those medicines after any driving is finished for the day.
All drivers can increase their level of safety by avoiding distractions such as eating, talking, and listening to engaging productions like podcasts or audiobooks. In addition, wearing a seatbelt and keeping a constant watch for road hazards are good habits to cultivate a decrease in the risk of accidents.
Understanding What Makes Drivers Dangerous Can Reduce the Risks of Accidents
When you understand the factors that can make you or a loved one a dangerous driver, you can take steps to address those potential problems. Knowing that the other drivers on the road with you can be unintentionally dangerous allows you to stay on watch and be prepared for evasive action.
Driving is a serious and challenging job, even for those with experience. Failure to appreciate the risks can lead to a car accident with serious injuries. As the number of new drivers, teens, and older drivers continues to increase, the levels of danger rise. Even if you are not in one of the high-risk categories, you can decrease your risk of an accident by keeping your attention on the road, avoiding distractions, and trying not to rush.
Injured by a dangerous driver in Fort Lauderdale or South Florida? Attorney Joseph Maus can help. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 855-476-5926 or tell us how we can reach you online now.