We’ve all been there: someone cuts you off, rides your bumper even though you’re going the speed limit, or someone travels through a four way stop sign even though it was clearly your turn. These kinds of situations can be extremely aggravating for safe drivers who follow the laws. It can be tempting to slow down even more to irritate the person behind you, or to try to take your turn at the four way stop sign even though the other person is already halfway through the intersection. However, meeting aggressive driving with more aggressive driving is never a good idea.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost one third of car crashes and two thirds of car-related deaths are linked to aggressive driving.
Aggressive driving is when someone commits a combination of driving offenses that endanger other people. Such behaviors can include:
• Excessive speeding
• Failure to signal
• Swerving in and out of traffic
• Failure to yield
• Cutting off other drivers
• Running a red light
• Honking your horn for an extended period of time
Aggressive driving involves actions that are negligent and inconsiderate to other drivers. Road rage, on the other hand, refers to behavior that is directed at a specific driver, which can sometimes escalate to violence. Instances of road rage include:
• Yelling and/or using obscene or rude gestures and language
• Forcing the driver off the road
Dealing with aggressive drivers is extremely frustrating, and it can be so easy to escalate your own behavior to match theirs. However, that simply makes the situation worse and puts yourself and others at greater risk.
To help avoid confrontation, always make sure you are following all driving laws and are paying close attention to the cars around you. If you are dealing with an aggressive driver:
• Try to maintain a safe distance
• Avoid eye contact
• Do not respond with more aggression
• If you feel unsafe, or are being followed, drive to a public place (do not drive home)