Aggressive driving is unfortunately a frequent part of many people’s driving experiences with 55% of men and 44% of women claiming to experience some type of aggression while driving on a daily basis. Aggressive driving behaviors are a factor in up to 56% of fatal crashes, according to the AAA Foundation. An average of at least 1,500 men, women and children are injured or killed in the United States each year as a result of “aggressive driving.”
Road rage is a hostile exchange between drivers that often starts with aggressive driving tactics, such as weaving between traffic and merging with not enough space to spare, tailgating and driving too slow or too fast in relation to their fellow drivers. This can also include rude gestures, shouting and aggressive driving movements meant to intimidate. The escalation of these actions can result in road rage, which is ultimately a criminal act of assault, which includes physically or verbally threatening another driver after leaving their vehicle.
There are two types of drivers that can contribute to aggressive driving, accidents and assaults: aggressors and responders. When these two types meet on the road, road rage often occurs.
Aggressors are drivers who disobey traffic rules, which can happen for several reasons: distraction, cell phone use, being in a hurry, etc. Responders, on the other hand, are those drivers who are usually calm but can be easily angered when provoked by aggressive drivers.
Ways to Avoid Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
Don’t Offend Other Drivers:
Avoid cutting off drivers – Be aware of your surroundings in relation to the other drivers on the road. Make sure you have plenty of room to merge into another traffic lane and always use your turn signals.
Avoid tailgating – Allow plenty of room, at least a two second space is recommended, between you and the car in front of you.
Avoid provoking other drivers – Avoid unnecessarily honking your vehicle’s horn and/or making inappropriate gestures. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Even small, unintentional motions can cause anger in the other driver, who may be looking for a reason to escalate their aggression.
Don’t Respond to Aggressive Drivers:
When confronted with a driver who’s exhibiting aggressive behavior and intimidation tactics with their vehicle, give them plenty of space and physically distance your vehicle from them. Slow down, turn on to another road, or simply get out of their way by switching lanes to remove yourself from their driving path to slow down the situation and mounting aggression.
DO NOT pull off to the side of the road to reason with the driver. If the driver’s behavior doesn’t stop, keep calm and safely use a handsfree mobile device to call the police and notify them of your situation.
Adjust Your Attitude:
If you find yourself thinking of driving as a contest or race, take a deep breath and put your pride in the backseat. Driving is a means to an end, to get you and your passengers from point A to point B; it’s not a competition, so be the bigger person and let the other driver “win.”
Don’t take it personally! There are countless reasons that could be motivating the other person involved to drive erratically.
Resist fueling the fire with returning any rude gestures that may be thrown your way. Avoid eye contact and gesture an apology if you have made a driving mistake that may have provoked the angry driver.
Have you you ever had an experience with an aggressive driver or an incident of road rage?