Beyond the obvious: Other dangerous driving behaviors

Everyone knows the dangers of drunk driving. In fact, as you are likely well aware, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the number one cause of traffic-related deaths. You may also be familiar with the other leading causes of motor vehicle accidents as well, like drowsy driving and speeding. Driving while tired is almost as dangerous as drunk driving, and excessive speeding is the second leading cause of motor vehicle accidents.

You may even already be familiar with the risks of distracted driving, as public service announcements and laws banning texting while driving have tried to alert the public to the hazards posed by any activities that take a driver's attention away from the road. Beyond these more obvious examples, though, what are some other high-risk driving activities? Most importantly, is there anything you can do to keep yourself and your family safer on the roads of Louisiana?

Dangerous driving habits

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are over 650,000 distracted drivers on the streets and highways at any point in time, and given that studies show that texting behind the wheel is just as dangerous as drunk driving, that's a scary thought indeed. However, drowsy and drunk driving, speeding and making a phone call are far from the only risky behaviors that contribute to car crashes. Other dangerous driving habits include:

  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Neglecting to wear a seatbelt
  • Hypermiling behind tractor-trailers
  • Failure to yield right of way

Almost a quarter of all motor vehicle accidents are weather-related, so even if you are a highly trained driver with an all-wheel drive vehicle, it's better to play it safe and slow down when the road surface is slippery or visibility is low due to rain, fog or other inclement weather. No matter what, you'll want to fasten your seatbelt; doing so takes less than a second but has saved the lives of over 75,000 people in a study that looked at just a four-year period alone.

Hypermiling, also known as drafting, is a method of increasing fuel economy by closely following behind tractor-trailers. Unfortunately, it's extremely dangerous, as following any closer than 150 feet behind a commercial vehicle does not allow enough time for you to react and can lead to horrific accidents and even decapitation. Another leading cause of crashes, especially among drivers over the age of 70, is failure to yield. Whether a hurried driver runs a red light or is simply oblivious in a merge lane, the results can be fatal.

Reckless driving

Of course, no matter how careful and conscientious you are about your own driving, there's not much you can do if another driver is operating his or her vehicle in a reckless manner. Weaving in and out of traffic, swerving, sudden acceleration and braking, and even passing on the right or driving slowly in the left lane on freeways, are all reckless, dangerous and – in a number of states – illegal. Unpredictability in traffic is a great way to cause a deadly car accident.

Many states even consider driving more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit to be reckless driving – as opposed to just speeding – and thus impose heavy penalties such as fines or even jail time. This, however, offers little consolation for you if you suffer injury, or – far worse – lose a loved one due to another's reckless driving behavior. In such an event, there are professional Louisiana advocates in the Baton Rouge area who have experience in the legal methods of pursing just compensation in the aftermath of these situations.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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