The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released updated reports concerning traffic safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports revealed that though fewer drivers were on the road during the pandemic, some who continued to drive engaged in riskier behaviors. These risky behaviors included failing to wear a seat belt, speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The data reflected that people who sped during the second quarter of 2020, were more likely to drive at “extreme speeds.” These behaviors were also seen among Maryland drivers, where speed camera violations exceeding 100 mph were up 500% the last week of April 2020 compared to the previous year. The proportion of seriously or fatally injured drivers testing positive for opioids almost doubled after mid-March, compared to the previous six months and marijuana use increased by around 50%.
The consequences for Maryland drivers for reckless driving can be severe. State law defines reckless driving as driving with wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people or property or in a way that indicates such a disregard. Drivers can be charged criminally and may also have to pay compensation to victims because of the damages that resulted.
Drivers must exercise reasonable care while driving, which means they have to drive carefully under the circumstances presented. A plaintiff in a Maryland car accident case must prove that the defendant was negligent in acting or failing to act in some way. In a simple negligence case, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff, the defendant failed to exercise such care, and the plaintiff suffered damages, which were caused by the defendant’s failure to exercise care. In a gross negligence case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with a wanton or reckless disregard for others.