A record of bad driving is a good predictor of future crashes, according to a study of fatal wrecks on Long Island.
A Newsday study of nearly 270 fatals in 2000 found that many were caused by problem drivers who get drunk and roar down the roads ignoring speed limits and traffic lights.
Other deadly crashes were the fault of bad sober drivers who were far too aggressive on the road: tailgating other vehicles, weaving, and intimidating other drivers. Still others were caused by more subtle forms of bad driving such as speeding up to get past traffic lights before they turn red or driving just a little too fast for the condition of the road.
Distracted driving also is causing crashes. With the proliferation of gadgets such as cell phones and entertainment systems, driver inattention is a growing concern. Police cited it as a factor in 11 percent of the road deaths studied by Newsday. And in a national survey, 46 percent of people said they eat or drink at the wheel and 8 percent even admitted to driving with their legs when their hands are otherwise occupied.