Aggressive driving continues to be a serious problem on the road and is the cause of more than half of all traffic accidents. In fact, 56 percent of fatal car crashes are at least a partial result of aggressive driving behavior, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Fortunately, February is Aggressive Driving Awareness Month, the perfect time for all drivers to reflect on their driving habits, become more aware of aggressive driving, and spread that awareness throughout their community to decrease the number of traffic accidents resulting from aggressive behaviors and promote a safe, friendly driving environment.
While you might define aggressive driving as “road rage,” the two terms are not interchangeable, though one can certainly be a cause of the other. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road rage is a criminal act in which driver uses his or her vehicle to assault another person with willful disregard for safety and the intention of causing harm while aggressive driving occurs “when individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” (Source: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Aggressive)
According to NHTSA, running a red light is considered the most dangerous aggressive driving behavior (Source: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/aggressdrivers/aggenforce/define.html).
No matter what other drivers are doing around you, always act courteously to avoid making the situation worse. Not sure what to do when confronted by an aggressive driver? Follow these tips:
- Don’t engage aggressive drivers
- Keep your distance
- Avoid eye contact
- Don’t respond with obscene language or gestures
- Don’t pull off to the side of the road to confront an aggressive driver
If an aggressive driver follows you or continues to put you in harm’s way, do not get out of the car or drive home. Instead, drive to a well-populated area and call the local police for assistance and to report the driver.
Are you an aggressive driver? Follow these tips to keep your cool on the road:
- Keep your emotions and stress levels in check and avoid driving while angry
- Give yourself enough time to drive to your destination and allow for delays
- Keep a three-second distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you
- Use your turn signals when turning and changing lanes
- Let aggressive tailgaters pass and don’t tailgate other drivers
- Use your horn sparingly
- Focus on the road and your surroundings and avoid distracting activities, such as eating or talking on the phone
- Remain in one lane rather than weaving in-and-out of traffic
- Thank other drivers who let you cut in or signal an apology if you perform an accidental action, such as forgetting your signal when changing lanes, that other drivers might mistake for aggressive behavior
Increase aggressive driving awareness in your community by reporting aggressive driving to the proper authorities and campaigning for new or improved aggressive driving programs in your community, city, or state.