SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Aggressive driving behaviors continue to lead to increased motor vehicle accidents, many of which are deadly.
It’s an everyday task that’s become increasingly more dangerous getting behind the wheel. Since the pandemic, instances of aggressive driving have been increasing nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as, “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Driving in this way can quickly lead to tragedy.
Data from the Federal Highway Administration shows over 38,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020. Fast forward three years and the numbers aren’t much better. Last month, the Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported over 19,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first six months of 2023.
While deadly crashes have slowly been declining statewide over the past few years, nationally the number of deaths is still nearly 15% higher than pre-pandemic times in 2019.
22News spoke with local drivers and pedestrians to learn how these national trends align with what they’re seeing on local roadways.
“I know that some people definitely cut people off and you know they act like the other person had the problem and they’ll honk their horn or they’ll try to apologize like oh my bad because maybe they have their phone pulled up in front of them,” said Diamond of Springfield.
“I’m getting older, I drive slower. I get tail-gated a lot,” said Richard Johansen of Pittsfield.
Traffic safety experts have attributed the uptick in aggression on our roadways to several factors, largely stemming from the pandemic. Traffic volumes were lower then, which meant those who were behind the wheel were driving at higher, more dangerous speeds. The anticipated return to pre-pandemic driving behaviors has yet to be seen.
AAA estimates nearly eight out of 10 drivers act aggressively while driving. While national and local agencies work toward reversing the deadly trend many emphasize the need for drivers themselves to put safety before how they’re feeling at the wheel.
22News continues examining deadly roads in western Massachusetts and will take a look at the state’s Move Over Law and why not adhering to it is leading to heftier fines.