In driving, as with baseball, the main goal is to get home safe. The difference between driving and sports, however, is that displays of aggression on the road can get you hurt or even killed.
Aggression by other drivers can put you at risk for a fatal crash, and your reactions to those drivers can be just as dangerous. On the road, getting home safe is your number one priority. Beyond that, remember that no one is keeping score.
Examples and Effects of Aggressive Driving
You’ve most likely seen aggressive driving at some point and believe you know what it entails: tailgating, blocking lane changes, cutting off cars, making rude gestures, etc. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as any moving traffic offenses that endanger other persons or property.
One primary example is speeding, but aggressive driving can include violations such as the following:
- Improper turning
- Lane changing or passing
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failure to signal
- Ignoring warning signs
- Disregarding traffic signs and signals
- Driving on the shoulder or side of the road
- Following too closely
- Driving erratically
Data collected by the NHTSA between 2003 and 2007 shows that, according to its definition, aggressive driving played a role in 56 percent of fatal accidents on U.S. roads. In 2014 alone, speeding was a factor in 9,262 traffic deaths on U.S. roads, according to the NHTSA.
How to Deal with An Aggressive Driver
Although aggressive drivers are out there, you shouldn’t have to be victimized by them. When dealing with an aggressive driver, authorities agree that the main thing is to not play their game — be the better driver. Reacting in kind may give you some momentary satisfaction, but it will not contribute to you getting home safely and could even cause the situation to escalate.
To defuse an aggressive driving situation, ignore rude gestures and horn honking, and certainly don’t return them. Do not struggle to restore your position in your lane if you’ve been cut off, and do not otherwise challenge the aggressor. Concentrate on getting out of the situation rather than getting even.
If you find yourself in an encounter with an aggressive driver, remember the following guidelines:
- Stay calm.
- Always keep your seat belt fastened, and make sure your passengers have done the same.
- Avoid eye contact.
- If it seems appropriate and safe to do so, report what you saw to the authorities with details such as a vehicle description, location, license plate number, and direction of travel.
If an accident results, park a safe distance away and follow our tips for what to do immediately after a car accident or download our free ebook about what to do — and not do — after a crash.
The Prevalence of Aggressive Driving
If you’ve ever felt the urge to intentionally tailgate another driver, yell at them, or honk at them, you’re not alone: AAA rates those three behaviors as the most common forms of aggressive driving.
In a 2016 AAA survey, 51 percent of respondents admitted they had tailgated someone intentionally in the past year, 47 percent reported they had yelled, and 45 percent said they had honked at another driver. Other behaviors documented in the poll included making angry gestures (33 percent), blocking another vehicle from changing lanes (24 percent), and intentionally cutting off another vehicle (12 percent). Altogether, about 80 percent of the respondents admitted to aggressive driving of some form.
More aggressive forms of road rage thankfully turned out to be rare, with only four percent of respondents admitting to getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver and three percent to intentionally ramming or bumping another vehicle. Given the high potential for harm that accompanies these incidents, though, even a few select occurrences is still too many.
AAA urges drivers to be tolerant and forgiving of others on the road. Do not immediately assume that another driver’s actions are intentional acts of sabotage; that person might have made an unintentional — although still dangerous — driving error, or they might just be having a bad day.
Furthermore, it’s always good advice to stick to the fundamental rules of the road that you learned on your first day behind the wheel: follow at a sensible distance, signal before turning, let others merge, be careful about your high beams, tap your horn instead of blaring it, and always use your best judgement to make the safest decisions possible while driving.
Injured Because of an Aggressive Driver? Crosley Law Helps Car Accident Victims
Even if you drive as safely as possible, there is no way to account for the reckless behavior of other drivers on the road. Every day, people suffer injuries or lose their lives because of other drivers’ careless decision-making behind the wheel, and those people deserve justice and compensation for their losses.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one — especially if it was the result of another driver’s aggressive behavior on the road — you may have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit. At Crosley Law Firm, we offer free consultations so we can listen to the details of your story and provide you with candid advice about what your best course of action is moving forward. If we think you have a case, we’ll get to work immediately — and you don’t have to pay us unless we achieve a settlement or win your case in court.
Call our offices at 210-LAW-3000 or fill out our convenient online contact form today.
Aggressive driving. (2017). AAA Exchange. Retrieved from http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/aggressive-driving/#.WP45QtLytPa
Aggressive driving. (n.d.). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/aggressive-driving
Speeding. (n.d.). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding