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5 Dangerous Driving Behaviors You May Not Realize You’re Doing

Driving is an inherently risky activity, where high speeds and split-second decisions can lead to serious consequences. Preliminary estimates for 2023 indicate that at least 21,130 lives were lost in traffic accidents across the country in the first half of the year.

While the dangers of speeding are widely recognized, numerous other driving behaviors also pose risks on the road. By identifying and avoiding these hazardous habits, you can help ensure a safer driving experience for everyone.

  1. Daydreaming or Being Lost in Thought

While it may seem harmless, daydreaming or getting lost in thought is a form of distracted driving. This mental disengagement can delay your reaction to sudden changes, such as braking traffic or pedestrian crossings.

Daydreaming while driving, often referred to as driver inattention, is a significant issue on the roads, leading to numerous accidents each year. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) reports over 10,000 crashes annually attributed to inattentive driving.

To prevent distracted driving accidents, focus and stay alert at all times. Scan the road for potential hazards, avoid multitasking, and take breaks on long trips to keep your concentration sharp.

  1. Driving While Tired

Driving while tired, also known as drowsy driving, increases the risk of accidents. Even slight sleep deprivation can increase the risk of a crash.

For example, drivers with less than 4 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours have 11.5 higher odds of crash involvement than those who slept for 7 hours or more.

Research shows that staying awake for 17 hours straight is like having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%. If you’re awake for 24 hours, it’s like having a BAC of 0.10%, which is above the legal driving limit in all U.S. states of (0.08%).

Drowsy driving affects a driver’s ability to make decisions and react quickly to road conditions and hazards.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving was responsible for more than 684 crashes in 2021 in the United States.

Tiredness impairs judgment and slows reaction times, making safe driving difficult. If you find yourself yawning, struggling to keep your eyes open, or frequently blinking, these are signs that you are too tired to drive and should pull over and rest.

  1. Becoming Complacent

Becoming complacent behind the wheel is a subtle yet dangerous driving behavior. It often develops when drivers get too comfortable with their daily routes or are overconfident in their driving skills.

This complacency is particularly risky on familiar roads, where a driver’s attention may lapse, leading to a false sense of security about knowing every turn and stop.

While Wisconsin doesn’t track complacency as a direct cause of accidents like alcohol or speeding, it’s still a psychological factor contributing to many crashes.

Over time, driving the same route can dull a driver’s alertness and preparation for unexpected road changes or hazards.

Always approach every journey with the mindset of a first-time traveler. Pay full attention and stay ready to react at all times.

  1. Following Too Closely

Tailgating or following another vehicle too closely reduces the time you have to react if the vehicle in front of you suddenly brakes or encounters a problem. It’s one of the leading causes of rear-end collisions, often attributed to distracted or aggressive driving.

In Wisconsin, following too closely contributed to 5 fatal and 2,377 injury accidents in 2021. To minimize the risk of rear-ending another motorist, follow the three-second rule.

When the vehicle ahead of you passes a stationary object, it should take you at least three seconds to pass the same object.

Increase your following distance during adverse conditions such as rain and fog or when following large vehicles obstructing your view of the road ahead. This gives you more time to react if they step on the brakes, allowing you to stop in time.

  1. Rubbernecking

Slowing down to look at accidents or other incidents on the side of the road is known as rubbernecking, and it is dangerous. It creates unnecessary traffic jams and increases the risk of additional accidents.

The distraction and reduced speed of the rubbernecking driver can lead to a chain reaction of braking and potential collisions, especially in high-speed traffic areas.

It is recognized as contributing to traffic congestion and crashes, particularly on highways and in areas prone to accidents.

Always keep your focus when driving and resist the temptation to gaze at roadside incidents. Keep your eyes on the road and maintain a steady speed to ensure you and your fellow drivers’ safety.

Injured in a Car Accident? Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you’ve sustained injuries in a car accident due to a reckless driver, you could be dealing with severe injuries, escalating medical bills, lost income, and emotional distress. Our Green Bay car accident attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can provide skilled legal support to help you receive fair compensation for your damages.

We have decades of experience handling car accident cases in Wisconsin. Let us manage your settlement claim while you focus on your recovery. Contact our law firm to arrange your free case review. 

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