Encountering Aggressive Drivers On The Road

If you’re not familiar with the term “aggressive driving,” is the first thought that comes to mind “road rage?” If it is, you’re not alone. Read our previous post explaining the differences here. It’s easy to confuse the two because they sound similar, when in fact they are two entirely different things. However, while they’re two different issues, aggressive driving can potentially lead to situations which induce road rage.

It’s important to understand aggressive driving, so you can A, avoid becoming an aggressive driver; B, know what to do if you encounter an aggressive driver; and C, familiarize yourself with state laws which address the issue of aggressive driving.

What Is Aggressive Driving?

The act of driving aggressively may have its own unique definition per state law; however, the basic gist is the same across all states. The act of driving aggressively includes any traffic offense or act on the roadway which endangers other people or property. Some states require that at least three or more traffic offenses occur subsequently for the act of aggressive driving to be considered.

Typical Driving Behaviors of an Aggressive Driver

  • Tailgating
  • Speeding
  • Failing to Yield the Right Away
  • Unlawfully Passing on the Right
  • Erratic or Unsafe Lane Changes
  • Failing to Signal
  • Failing to Obey Traffic Lights and Signs

Aggressive Driving Facts

Here are some compiled facts and stats regarding the issue:

  • It is a traffic violation and not a criminal offense.
  • Many of the 6,800,000 crashes, which occur annually, are believed to be associated with aggressive driving.
  • According to NHTSA stats, in 1990, there were about 13,000 people within the United States who were injured or killed in aggressive driving related accidents.
  • 60% of people surveyed, tell the NHTSA that they feel unsafe due to the careless driving acts of others.
  • According to studies conducted by the AAA Foundation, speeding is a key variable in one-third of the nations’ fatality crashes, while the Insurance Information Institute notes that the Automobile Association of America found that 56% of fatal crashes which occurred between 2003 and 2007 were attributed to speeding.
  • According to both the NHTSA survey and the AAA Foundation studies, more than half of the drivers studied or surveyed admitted to speeding or driving aggressively within the past 30 days.

State Laws to Address Aggressive Drivers

Many states throughout the country have laws to address aggressive driving issues, while others are beginning to follow suit. Within the United States, 15 states have addressed the issue while 11 states have passed laws targeting the act of aggressively driving. In the state of Pennsylvania, two contributing factors must be met for a crash to be considered aggressive driving.

Could You Be An Aggressive Driver?

Signs that you could be an aggressive driver include:

  • Speeding Frequently
  • Racing to Beat Traffic Lights
  • Failing to Make a Complete Stop at a Stop Sign
  • Failing to Yield the Right Away (In a Hurry)
  • Illegally Passing on the Right
  • Weaving Erratically In and Out of Traffic (Maybe in a Hurry)
  • Failing to Signal when Weaving In and Out of Traffic or Anywhere

How to avoid becoming an Aggressive Driver

To avoid becoming an aggressive driver, there are several things that you can do and here are a few of them:

  • Allow yourself enough time to reach your destination. Avoid rushing to get there. No rush is worth your life or the life of others.
  • Always signal when changing lanes or when turning.
  • Obey traffic lights and signs.
  • Be courteous with your fellow drivers.
  • Drive comfortably, especially if you frequently drive through congested traffic.
  • Avoid driving when under immense stress.

When You Encounter an Aggressive Driver

If you encounter an aggressive driver, avoid confrontation. It is never wise to confront the aggressive driver as this can lead to road rage. Even when you know you’re right and the other driver is clearly in the wrong, just get out of the way.

If it makes you feel better, report the driver’s license plate to your local DMV or law enforcement agency. It is wise to ignore rude behavior, including hand gestures and shouting. And if you’re a slow driver, stick with the slow lanes to avoid invoking rage in an aggressive driver.