Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage
Nearly one-third of all motor vehicle collisions as well as two-thirds of all automobile-related fatalities involve aggressive driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Aggressive driving is identified as reckless performance behind the wheel, for example:
Speeding in heavy traffic
Cutting in front of another driver and after that slowing down
Running red lights
Weaving inside and outside of traffic
Changing lanes without signaling
Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers
Road rage is malicious behavior directed at specific drivers, which may escalate to violence. Examples include:
Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
Forcing a driver off the road
Brandishing or discharging firearms.
Manage your behavior, manage your responses
AAA’s How to Drive: The Beginning Driver’s Manual includes tips on avoiding aggressive driving and stopping road rage at its root. These include:
Allowing enough travel time so that you will don’t begin your trip stressed, hurried or impatient.
Making your vehicle a conflict-free zone. If you are just debating the idiot on talk radio or responding to a bumper sticker, driving and intense conversations don’t mix; even. Pay attention to relaxing music. Breathe. Stretch. Smile.
You will notice other drivers doing items that are even, illegal and inconsiderate incomprehensible. Don’t respond personally. Most drivers are not thinking about their impact on you; they are just rushed, distracted or upset.
Follow the rules of the road.
Maintain adequate following distance.
Use turn signals.
Allow others to merge.
Use your high-beams responsibly.
Tap your horn when you must (but no long blasts with accompanying hand gestures).
Be considerate in parking lots. Park in one spot, not across multiple spaces. Take care not to hit cars next to you with your door.
Remaining courteous and calm behind the wheel lowers your risk of an unpleasant encounter – with another driver and with law enforcement. Several communities now deploy teams to focus on aggressive drivers. Repeat violators may be fined, required to take anger management classes, lose their license or serve jail time.
Dealing with confrontation
Avoid eye contact with angry drivers.
Don’t respond to aggression with aggression.
Drive into a public place such as a police station, hospital or fire station, if you think you are at an increased risk.
When someone approaches you aggressively, whenever you park, allow room in order to pull out safely.
Use your horn to attract attention but stay in your locked vehicle.
Should you be confronted, stay as calm and courteous as possible.
Call 911 if you feel threatened.