Most people would agree that aggressive driving is more of a problem in our country than it used to be. If they were honest, they'd also admit they've engaged in that type of behavior on occasion. Stress, fatigue, and impatience are a few reasons why people slip into this disrespectful and often dangerous driving practice.
We're all human, but aggressive driving is often the cause of life-altering accidents.
Signs of Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving has been defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as engaging in a combination of traffic offenses that endangers other people or property. It's slightly less serious than road rage, which involves committing a criminal act, such as using a vehicle as a weapon or confronting another motorist with a gun. However, aggressive driving can easily escalate into a more dangerous situation.
Signs of aggressive driving that you should watch for include:
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Driving on the shoulder or median to get around traffic
- Passing in a no-passing driving zone
- Driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions
- Suddenly changing speed
- Making unsafe lane changes
- Cutting in front of other drivers
- Engaging in action on purpose to annoy other drivers, such as braking too hard, revving the engine, and getting too close to other drivers
- Making vulgar gestures
- Yelling at others
- Honking to express anger
- Flashing headlights
- Running red lights and failing to yield
Steps to Take to Avoid an Aggressive Driver
If you spot aggressive driving, staying calm is the key to not attract attention from this motorist. Remember: your primary goal is to stay safe. Here's how you can accomplish this:
- Avoid eye contact. This ensures the other driver doesn't misinterpret your look as threatening when it wasn't.
- Don’t challenge the driver. In addition to eye contact, don't extend gestures, words, or retaliating actions.
- Follow safe driving practices. It's important to obey traffic rules and safe driving practices when driving in general. Some aggressive driving incidents begin when a driver accidently cuts off another driver, fails to use his turn signal, or violates other rules that elevate another driver’s annoyance into aggressive driving.
- Keep passing lane open. Some drivers start an aggressive driving incident by staying in the passing lane when driving the speed limit or not driving fast enough to pass. Pass and then move back safely into the right lane.
- Maintain a safe distance. Otherwise, your actions may be interpreted as tailgating and anger the driver in front of you.
- Get out of way. If you spot an aggressive driver, simply get out of the way. This can mean letting him pass you, exiting the highway, or switching your direction.
- Go to a safe location. If you feel a situation is dangerous, go to a safe location, such as a police station, hospital, or fire department.
- Call 911. You can call the police if you witness or are the victim of an aggressive driver. Take note of the license plate number and make/model of the vehicle.
- Don’t take it personally. The driver’s behavior may have nothing to do with you, so it's important to not take the incident personally and match fire with fire.
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