Traffic congestion is likely to increase this summer, and more people on the roads will lead to aggressive driving, unfortunately.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, the term “aggressive driving” emerged in the 1900s to categorize on-the-road behaviors that endanger, or are likely to endanger, persons or property. These behaviors include (but are not limited to):
- Following too closely (i.e., tailgating)
- Traveling at excessive speeds
- Weaving through traffic
- Running stop lights and signs
“Road rage” describes the angry and violent behaviors at the extreme end of the aggressive driving continuum: gesturing or yelling at another motorist, confrontation, physical assault, or worse in extremely rare cases.
While aggressive driving is often considered a traffic violation, road rage, aside from yelling and gesturing, is a criminal offense.
Aggressive driving is frequent and a measurable contributing factor to traffic accidents across the country.
A national survey found that 60 percent of motorists believe that unsafe driving by others is a major personal threat to them and their families.
What Causes Aggressive Driving?
Factors that are known to contribute to aggressive driving include:
- Traffic delays—heavy traffic, crowded parking lots, and sitting at stoplights are known to increase a driver’s anger and irritability.
- Running late—leaving late for an appointment or meeting can trigger impatience and anger.
- Anonymity—drivers who assume they’ll never see other drivers again are more likely to engage in rude or risky driving behavior.
- Habitual or learned conduct—parents or caretakers who model aggressive driving are inadvertently teaching children and young drivers this behavior.
How to Avoid Aggressive Driving
One of the best ways to avoid aggressive driving is to ensure you have the right insurance coverage. Knowing that you’re properly covered can deter a great deal of stress, especially in the event of an accident.
Don’t travel in a hurry, and if you’re running late, let the other party know before you get behind the wheel. Trying to call or text an urgent message once you’re underway is dangerous (and often illegal!), especially if you’re already stressed or feeling impatient.
And finally, give yourself time to cool off if you get too heated. Being able to recognize your stress is the first step toward avoiding aggressive driving. Take a few deep breaths, think about someone or something you care about and move on. Don’t let another driver’s bad behavior get the best of you.
If Another Driver Acts Aggressively…
Do not engage angry drivers. If you notice aggressive behavior from another driver, safely change lanes, gradually slow down, or take an alternate route.
Avoid the temptation to reciprocate bad behavior, as this can cause the situation to escalate and become dangerous.
Finally, don’t stop your vehicle. Stopping could lead to a person-to-person confrontation. If you’re worried the other driver is following you, keep your doors locked and drive to the nearest police station.
***With a little extra planning, patience, and self-awareness, your next ride can feel stress free.