If you tend to take your frustrations out on fellow drivers, carelessly whip in and out of lanes, tailgate other vehicles, or ignore speed limits, you might be an aggressive driver. A traffic offense defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a behavior that occurs when a driver fails to consider human safety by committing a combination of moving traffic offenses that endanger other persons or property, aggressive driving is a serious problem on our roads and highways.
Aggressive driving behavior can lead to traffic accidents and even road rage, a criminal offense in which a driver assaults another driver’s vehicle with deliberate disregard for others’ safety. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that speeding, the most common form of aggressive driving behavior, was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 and resulted in over 11,500 fatalities.
Aggressive driving actions can also include excessive lane changing, failure to signal lane changes, improper passing, tailgating, ignoring traffic laws, honking or yelling, and even making hand and facial gestures toward other drivers. According to NSC, these behaviors are increasing due to a lack of responsible and cooperative driving behavior, reduced levels of traffic enforcement, and an increase in travel and congestion over the past 30 years.
If you frequently find yourself feeling frustrated on the road and performing aggressive driving behaviors, maintain your cool with these tips from NHTSA:
- Avoid cell phone use and other distractions and stay focused on the road
- Create a calm atmosphere in your car by listening to relaxing music
- Drive below the posted speed limit
- Give yourself extra time to get to your destination by accounting for possible delays
- Map out alternate routes, whether you’re planning ahead for delays or avoiding traffic
- Go with the flow and accept that being a bit late every now and then happens
- Remember that yelling, horn honking, or other violent behaviors won’t make traffic move any faster
If all else fails, use public transportation. You don’t have to rely on the bus or train every day, but if you’re feeling particularly frustrated – whether about personal or driving-related matters – switching to public transportation for a day can provide much-needed relief from life in the driver’s seat.