Aggressive driving is a public safety threat to everyone on our roadways. According to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
, almost 80 percent of drivers across the country admitted to expressing some form of significant anger, aggression, or road rage in the past year. Nearly 8 million of those drivers admitted to having gotten out of their cars to confront another driver! The study also revealed that aggressive driving is a factor in a staggering 56 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Though aggressive driving is not the same as road rage, road rage is often preceded by aggressive driving behavior. Road rage is typically defined as violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions. Road rage escalates into a violent incident or altercation, and is a criminally punishable offense.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) states, “Speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors are among the leading causes of highway crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania.” And with more and more cars vying for limited space on our roads, the problem can only get worse. Pennsylvania drivers need to be equipped with the necessary tools to avoid aggressive driving situations that can cause accidents or easily escalate into violent road rage. Unfortunately most of us will have to deal with the repercussions of an aggressive driver’s behavior at some point in our lives.
What is Aggressive Driving?
Most of us have experienced anger or discomfort at the hands of an aggressive driver — or have even perpetrated aggressive driving behaviors ourselves. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
explains that aggressive driving occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Typical aggressive driving behaviors include:
- Seeking confrontations with other drivers
- Failing to yield to other drivers
- Ignoring road signs and regulations
- Cutting off another driver
As part of The PA Aggressive Driving and Education and Enforcement Project, PennDot, Pennsylvania State and local police as well as community organizations are working together to educate the public and enforce traffic laws to make our roads safer for all drivers.
How to Handle an Aggressive Driver
We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of being tailgated. What should you do? Do you speed up to avoid the other driver’s hostility? Or do you slow down to exacerbate the situation and make the other driver even more irate? Should you pull over? Knowing what to do in this and other potentially dangerous situations on the road can mean the difference between a safe trip to the grocery store and an unfortunate trip to the emergency room. PennDot offers these tips to help you avoid confrontation with an aggressive driver:
- Get out of their way and don’t challenge them
- Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact, and ignore rude gestures
- Don’t block the passing lane if you are driving slower than most of the traffic
Interactions with an aggressive driver can be awkward, irritating, and at worst, even scary. If you feel threatened by another driver’s aggression, drive to a highly populated parking lot and call 911, and stay inside your vehicle until the police arrive. The Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Enforcement Resource Center
encourages drivers who have experienced or witnessed an aggressive driving incident to call 911 and report the offending vehicle’s description, license plate number, location and direction of travel, driver description, and the aggressive driving behavior being demonstrated. Do not pull over to “discuss” the problem, and do not drive to your home in case you are being followed.
Are You an Aggressive Driver?
According to AAA, male drivers are three times more likely than women to be aggressive, with men between the ages of 19-39 the most likely offenders. All of us could probably use more patience with our driving practices; however, you may need to seriously reconsider your driving habits if you:
- Often hit the gas when you see a yellow light
- Regularly find yourself riding another driver’s bumper
- Give dirty looks or make rude gestures
- Purposely ignore other drivers trying to merge
- Speed excessively
- Pass on the right
Learning what triggers your aggression is the key to keeping your behavior under control. Leave early for an important meeting or event so that you can avoid the anxiety and impatience associated with rushing to your destination. Focus on arriving at your planned destination rather than on your feelings of frustration. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing are excellent tools for keeping aggressive tendencies in check.
Have You Been a Victim of Aggressive Driving?
The personal injury attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum have represented thousands of victims of car accidents in our area. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident or altercation resulting from aggressive driving, your first step should be to notify the police of the incident. Next, you need a team on your side that will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
We understand how an aggressive driving incident can cause serious consequences for you and your family, and we will do whatever it takes to represent your best interests. With convenient locations in Media and West Chester, we serve clients in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. Contact Donaghue & Labrum today for a free consultation.