Aggressive Driving In Michigan Raises Awareness of Accident Injury and Fatality Rates

December 5, 2017

It’s no secret that America’s roads and highways are becoming more and more congested with each passing year. Statistics show that approximately 218 million people had driver’s licenses in the U.S. in 2015, which is almost twice as many as 112 million licensed drivers back in 1970. But not only are more drivers on the roads, but smartphones and other devices distract millions of those drivers every day. As a result, many drivers are consistently driving more recklessly and dangerously to get to where they need to go, according to

Those making frequent commutes in the Metro Detroit area are starting to notice a significant spike in not just the number of drivers, but their aggressive actions.

WDET spoke with long time Uber driver, Gary Bell, about the increase in reckless driving. During the peak of afternoon rush hour, he has to speed up to keep drivers from rudely cutting him off.

“If I hadn’t sped up that guy would’ve cut me off,” Bell said during the interview while he honked his horn for emphasis. “He would’ve got into my little comfort zone.”

Bell says that he does his best to keep the obligatory car-length distance between him and other vehicles, but he also notes one thing he’s learned in his two years with Uber. Any driver can become aggressive, regardless of age, race, or gender, and the crazy driving only worsens on the highways.

“They’re driving crazier. The people seem to be more aggressive and in a hurry. It’s constant. It’s happening way more than it used to be two years ago,” Bell said.

And therein lies the root of Bell’s issue — it seems like drivers have no choice but to be aggressive behind the wheel, otherwise they’ll get left behind and consistently cut off.

Bell says that as soon as he manages to create the car-length space for safety, he has to instantly choose whether to back away or protect the gap as other drivers try to squeeze their way in.

“And by you pulling up or you stopping someone from getting in your space, they get pissed off because they feel that you should let them in. But what I do is I don’t look at ‘em eye to eye. Don’t have no eye to eye contact, just go on and keep my head straight. They be taunting me, you know. They be looking or blowing the horn at me.”

It doesn’t help that some drivers may be blissfully unaware of mechanical issues that could impact their safety. For example, recent national statistics show nearly eight out of 10 auto glass replacements fail to be installed properly and safely.

Still, Bell says the ‘competitive spirit’ associated with aggressive driving causes those behind the wheel to neglect even the simplest safety precautions.

“When a person gets into your space, man, that’s a personal attack,” Bell said. “And so people take it personally. So now you wanna retaliate. Especially if you come from the old school where you’re taught men are supposed to win. And here this guy come over and cuts you off or whatever. That brings out the competitive spirit, that brings out the anger, that brings out the ‘I must win.’”

The biggest underlying issue surfaces when accidents and injuries are brought into question. The National Transportation Safety Board cited about 40,000 deaths last year form vehicular accidents, which is a 5% increase from the year prior.

Even if there are no fatalities, injuries can still be severe and require significant and ongoing treatment. It’s not just head injuries and broken bones, either. According to an AACD survey, virtually all adults (99.7%) surveyed believe a healthy smile is socially important, any many drivers may be surprised to hear just how common dental and tooth injuries are during accidents. Many drivers have even had to file claims from their dental injuries after an accident.

But regardless of type and severity of injuries, knowing the consequences of aggressive driving — as well as the benefits of defensive driving — is the key to staying safe on the road.

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