We’ve all done it – been in a rush to make an appointment or simply been irritated by rush-hour traffic and honked our horn, sped, or tailgated another vehicle in the hopes of getting them to speed up or move over. But did you know that, according to a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, at least 1,500 people are killed or seriously injured each year as a result of aggressive driving? What is most disturbing in that study was the fact “aggressive driving” was defined as an angry or impatient driver who intentionally injures or kills, or attempts to injure or kill, another person – and as many as 40% of these intentional incidents involved the use of a weapon. Most people would more properly define the type of criminal conduct described in the AAA study as “road rage” incidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving much more broadly, explaining that it occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” In the first national survey on aggressive driving, the NHSTA found that more than 60% of driver reported that they had been the victim of an aggressive driver in the past year.
So what do you do when confronted with an aggressive driver? Here are 5 tips offered by the NHTSA:
- – Get out of the way. First and foremost make every attempt to get out of their way.
- – Put your pride aside. Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
- – Avoid eye contact. Eye contact can sometimes enrage an aggressive driver.
- – Gestures. Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
- – Report serious aggressive driving. You or a passenger may call the police. But if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location.
It can often be difficult to “be the bigger person” and not react or retaliate, but it is simply not worth it.
The next time you are irritated by another driver on the road, consider the fact that the other driver may simply be having a truly terrible day and don’t give in to the temptation to engage in aggressive driving tactics. The Minneapolis Star Tribune published an op-ed piece last week that described this precise scenario. I strongly recommend you read the article and consider it the next time you’re tempted to tail-gate or engage in other unsafe driving practices. If that’s not enough to convince you, consider the AAA study above – you never know how another driver might react to your tactics. Aggressive driving endangers everyone on the road.
Think about it.