Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on our roadways. What is aggressive driving? Most of us know it when we see it, but NHTSA defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” We provide guides, planners and information to law enforcement professionals and prosecutors to assist in the reduction of aggressive driving.
According to estimates by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers engaged in the following angry and aggressive behaviors during the previous year, including:
- Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
- Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
- Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
- Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
- Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (8 million drivers)
- Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (6 million drivers)
How can you avoid becoming an aggressive driver?
Aggressive driving not only puts you and others in danger, it can be expensive as well. Most insurers won’t cover an accident resulting from deliberate or reckless behavior, and a road-rage incident on your record can substantially raise your rates.
Try these tips:
- Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going since being late sends frustration levels through the roof
- Avoid driving when you’re angry or stressed
- Adjust your schedule to avoid peak traffic times if possible
- Use traffic reports or traffic apps to prepare yourself for (or ideally, avoid) delays
- Listen to music, the news, or an audio book if you find background noise soothing rather than distracting
- Don’t take things personally — give other drivers the benefit of the doubt
- Remember that red lights and traffic jams are beyond your control, and getting upset won’t change anything
How can you avoid conflicts with other drivers?
While there’s no excuse for driving like a jerk, here are a few things that can help keep you from lighting someone’s fuse:
- Use the left lane for passing only
- Remember to always use your turn signals
- Be courteous and allow plenty of room when passing and merging
- If you make a mistake, acknowledge it with a friendly wave
- Use your horn only when necessary
- Don’t use hand gestures to express your frustration
What should you do if an aggressive driver challenges you?
The best way to diffuse the situation is to let it go. Reacting may cause the problem to escalate. If confronted by an angry driver:
- Avoid eye contact with the driver if possible
- Don’t respond to or return hand gestures
- Give the driver plenty of space
- Resist the urge to put them in their place by racing or blocking them
- If the driver follows you, drive to a police station, store, or other public area — do not go home
Ultimately, your best protection against aggressive drivers or other road hazards is to learn defensive driving techniques, and always buckle up.