Many car accidents are preventable. From drunk to distracted drivers, the common denominator in many car crashes is human error. Aggressive driving, otherwise known as road rage or reckless driving, is another form of unsafe driving behavior that puts the drivers and those around them in danger. To keep yourself and your passengers safe, it is important to understand and identify the signs of aggressive driving.
According to a study in 2019 by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 80 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to expressing significant anger, aggression or road rage while driving at least once in the past 30 days. That accounts for millions and millions of drivers engaging in dangerous behavior, more than likely leading to car accidents and injuries.
There are many actions that constitute aggressive driving. By the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) definition, aggressive driving is any combination of moving traffic offenses that puts others or their property in danger. This includes:
- Blocking other cars from passing or changing lanes
- Brake checking, as in slamming the brakes in front of someone quickly
- Driving on the shoulder, sidewalk or median
- Erratic lane-switching or weaving in and out of traffic
- Excessive honking
- Excessive speeding or racing
- Failing to obey traffic laws or laws in safety zones, such as school zones
- Failure to use turn signal indicators
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Flashing headlights or high beams at others
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Illegal passing or cutting someone off
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Tailgating or following too closely.
Another form of aggressive driving can also be defined as road rage, which are more extreme actions and can lead to violence, injury, or death. Examples of road rage include:
- Aggressive body language
- Cursing or obscene gestures
- Deliberately tailgating
- Getting out of a car to confront another driver
- Intentionally cutting off another driver
- Intentionally rear-ending or ramming another car
- Sideswiping another car in attempt to force off the road
How Common is Aggressive Driving?
Aggressive drivers are all around us, and accidents caused by aggressive driving happen more often than you may realize. According to AAA Foundation’s Annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, millions of drivers have been polled and admitted to aggressive behavior in the past 30 days, with finding such as:
- 32 percent of drivers surveyed made rude gestures or honked at other drivers.
- 48 percent of drivers admit to having driven 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit on the freeway.
- 26 percent of drivers admit to aggressively switching lanes quickly or very close behind another driver.
- 31 percent of drivers admit to driving through a red light.
- 22 percent of drivers deliberately passed in front of another vehicle at less than a car length.
- 25 percent of drivers intentionally sped up when another vehicle tried to pass.
- 34 percent of drivers followed the vehicle in front of them too closely to keep from another car from merging.
- 28 percent of drivers admit to merging into traffic when the other driver tires to close the gap between them.
Why Do People Drive Aggressively?
It is difficult to determine the reasons why people drive aggressively. It is well known that doing so highly increases the chance of a car accident, jeopardizing the safety of the driver and others. Some common reasons that contribute to reckless or aggressive driving include:
- Congested traffic: Congested roadways, sitting at a stoplight, or any other driving action that takes a bit of time may increase the anger in some drivers.
- Impatience: Many of us find ourselves running late, but some drivers use that as an excuse to drive aggressively when they are running late for something.
- Anonymity: Some people believe that they would likely not see another driver again, or the feeling of anonymity makes them comfortable enough to engage in reckless behavior such as giving someone a rude hand gesture or tailgating them.
- Disregard for the law and the lives of others: Some drivers just do not have any regard for the law and believe that the rules do not apply to them.
- Learned behavior: Other drivers may believe that driving aggressively is normal or have been taught to do so, either when they were getting their license or have seen others do it.
How to Avoid Aggressive Driving
You may encounter an aggressive driver from time to time, or you may drive aggressively yourself and not even know it. To avoid engaging in such an activity, it is important to recognize what aggressive driving looks like. Here are a few tips for you on how to respond to an aggressive driver:
- Be defensive: Driving defensively is one way to avoid an aggressive driver, and to prevent yourself from being the aggressor as well. Driving defensively means to keep a safe distance between yourself and others, letting others have the right of the way, or anticipating another driver’s movement and preparing yourself. Practicing defensive driving is a great way to prevent car accidents and injury.
- Remain calm: If you spot an aggressive driver, one of the best things you can do is to remain calm and do not confront them. If they are screaming at you or making rude gestures, do not retaliate or even respond to them, but ignore them and avoid eye contact. Let them pass you and try to be as calm as possible. If another driver cuts you off or is tailgating you, remaining calm will prevent you from being an aggressor or getting angry yourself, and it can help minimize the situation.
- Do not antagonize the situation: Antagonizing an individual will only make matters worse and escalate the situation. Maintain your distance from an aggressive driver and slow down if possible, making your distance greater. You can even exit the road as well.
- Call 911: If you feel threatened by the aggressive driver, contact the police instead of responding to the other driver. Pull over to a safe public spot like a hospital, police station or firehouse, or call 911, and remember not to confront the other driver or get out of the car.
- Be patient: Many road rage incidents occur because a driver is trying to get somewhere by a certain time. To remedy this, give yourself enough time to get to where you need to go, which will prevent you from taking any unnecessary risks.
- Be kind: To avoid being an aggressive driver yourself, there are a few things you could practice before getting behind the wheel. Be slow to get frustrated by other drivers. If a driver is going too slowly, they may be lost, and if another driver cuts you off, think to yourself that they may be in a rush. Be kind and do not take another person’s actions personally.
Am I an Aggressive Driver?
Many aggressive drivers more than likely do not know that they are behaving a certain way, and it may just be the norm for them. Other aggressive drivers may feel like there are no repercussions for their behavior or they are not putting others in danger. If you wonder if you are an aggressive driver, try answering these questions:
- Do you try to rush others or have them move out of your way by tailgating them?
- Do you speed excessively or are always rushing?
- Do you weave in and out of traffic to get ahead of others?
- Do you ignore stop signs or race through red lights?
- Do you illegally pass others?
- Do you fail to yield the right of way to other drivers when you do not have the right of way?
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Those Injured by Aggressive Drivers
Aggressive driving is a dangerous behavior that many people partake in, putting themselves and others in harm’s way. If you have been injured by a negligent or aggressive driver, contact the Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC right away. Our experienced team will help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or fill out our online form to schedule an initial consultation. With our offices located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we proudly serve clients in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.