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How to Avoid Aggressive Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sums up aggressive driving as a person that commits a combination of moving traffic violations which endangers other people and their property. As you probably already know, aggressive driving never leads to anything good. Many hostile drivers end-up in accidents, with tickets, or (occasionally) on the evening news because of their bad behavior.
Over the years, aggressive driving has become one of the most dangerous threats on US roadways, surpassing drowsiness, drunk driving, drugged driving, and other worries. In fact, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than half of all fatal crashes during a recent four-year time frame involved aggressive drivers.
Everyone Speeds Sometimes, Right?
Obviously, no one gets behind-the-wheel hoping to cause mayhem on America’s side streets and main highways. However, motorists do occasionally ignore traffic rules which can lead to a serious car accident or other damage. Maybe you’ve even been guilty once or twice of being a textbook reckless or aggressive driver. Well, you aren’t alone.
In March 2018, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published a report that revealed 47.6% of respondents have sped down residential streets. The same survey also showed that 42.7% of respondents admitted to driving through a red stop light within the last 30 days, even though they could have stopped safely.
The fact is when individuals handle their vehicle in a pushy or thoughtless manner, no matter the reason why, then they are being an aggressive driver. Perhaps you’ve done the same and never had any issues or consequences arise as a result. Many motorists, like yourself, simply chalk it up to living in a fast-paced, modern world.
The Ingredients for Aggressive Driving
If you mix the perfect ingredients (or circumstances) together then you can slip up and start driving in a hostile manner. Remember, your bad behavior can infuriate drivers around you and lead to a heated confrontation known as road rage.
These are a few of the most frequently cited factors that contribute to poor driving habits:
Running late: Rushing to make an appointment or get to work on time can cause drivers to speed, weave among cars, and ignore traffic signs.
Traffic jams: Sitting at a complete stop or inching along the road can cause frustration for sure. Snarled traffic, malfunctioning stop lights, road construction, and crowded roads can cause traffic jams, as well as aggressive driving.
Indifference: Some motorists simply don’t care about traffic laws or other vehicles and they drive accordingly.
Motorcycles: Motorcycles are very powerful and can reach dangerous speeds rather quickly. Many motorcycle riders can’t resist revving up their engines and plowing through traffic, in-between other vehicles and along the shoulder.
Anonymity: Some drivers feel free to act up since they figure no one will be able to figure out their identity. This feeling of security from being detected makes it easier for individuals to engage in risky behaviors like making rude gestures, yelling at other drivers or pedestrians, tailgating, and cutting other motorists off.
Remember, if you’re driving aggressively with your children in the car, you aren’t just putting yourself at risk but your own loved ones too. Keep in mind, your kids are also learning how to drive from watching you. They may repeat your same behaviors when they finally become licensed. By avoiding aggressive driving, you’re also helping to prevent the next generation from driving in an irresponsible manner.
The Way Many Aggressive Drivers Act
As we mentioned above, many different factors can contribute to somehow acting up while driving. According to a 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, more than 5 million American drivers have experienced extreme road rage and acted out by purposefully ramming another car or physically confronting another motorist.
If you’ve ever lost your cool while behind the wheel, you may recognize some of these common aggressive driving behaviors. You’ll see that thousands of other drivers have also acted poorly, according to the 2016 AAA Foundation survey.
- Yelling (95 Million drivers)
- Making angry gestures (67 Million drivers)
- Tailgating other vehicles (104 Million drivers)
- Honking out of anger (91 Million drivers)
- Cutting off other vehicles on purpose (24 Million drivers)
- Ramming or bumping other vehicles on purpose (5.7 Million drivers)
- Blocking other vehicles from changing lanes (49 Million drivers)
- Getting out of your car to confront another driver (7.6 Million drivers)
- Ignoring traffic rules, including speed limits (unknown number)
- Speeding through construction and school zones or bus stops (unknown number)
Aggressive Driving Has Serious Consequences
Court dates, traffic tickets, bodily harm, property damage are among the consequences you can avoid if you keep a cool head and drive safely. However, if you don’t correct negative driving behaviors then you can expect to have all sorts of headaches.
Automated traffic enforcement: Most states and local municipalities know they need to curb aggressive driving. One popular solution is to install red light or speeding cameras that catch reckless motorists. These automated systems take pictures of you and your license plate, then mail you a traffic ticket.
Higher insurance premiums: Any moving violations you receive will stay on your record for a few years. The tickets you receive for driving aggressively will definitely increase your car insurance premiums at policy renewal time.
Harming Your Littles: Remember, if you’re driving aggressively with your children in the car, you aren’t just putting yourself at risk but your kids as well.
Keep in mind, your kids are also learning how to drive from watching you. They may repeat your same behaviors when they finally become licensed. By avoiding aggressive driving, you’re also helping to prevent the next generation from driving in an irresponsible manner.
Put the Brakes on Aggressive Driving
According to the Smooth Operator Program, more than 1.8 million traffic citations and warnings have been issued for aggressive driving acts. If you don’t want to be considered a reckless motorist, then it’s time to put the brakes on erratic driving and road rage.
There are five simple steps you can take to avoid becoming an aggressive driver.
- Give yourself lots of time to get where you’re going, less rushing means an easier commute.
- If possible, avoid traveling during congested times (like morning rush hour or holidays) and traveling through congested places (near the airport or a construction area).
- Go back to the basics and follow the standard rules of the road. Resist the temptation to teach other drivers a lesson by driving aggressively.
- Don’t give another motorist any attention when they are upset. Don’t make eye contact and don’t respond.
- Concentrate on the task at hand. Don’t worry about the mortgage, the kids, the job, or anything else. Focus on getting to your destination safely.
Hopefully this refresher on aggressive driving will help keep you on track. As you now know, millions of Americans have gotten hot under the collar during a drive and so you it’s not all that unusual. However, the consequences to aggressive drivers and people around them can be life-altering. It’s best for you, your loved ones, and your community to simply keep calm while motoring through life.