“Driving is a privilege that comes with many responsibilities. One of the most important responsibilities while driving is self-control.”
What is Aggressive Driving?
Aggressive Driving is a way of driving any type of vehicle or affecting any type of maneuver on a vehicle in which the driver deliberately behaves in such a manner as to increase the risk of a road accident.
What is Road Rage?
Road Rage is violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions.
Many common behaviors of Road Rage/Aggressive driving include speeding, racing, tailgating, failing to observe signs and regulations, and seeking confrontations with other drivers.
“Aggressive driving can evolve into violent behavior known as ‘road rage’.”
There are several actions that can be considered to be possible signs of Road Rage/Aggressive Driving.
- Obscene Gestures/ Eye Contact
- Use of Headlights
- Following too Closely (Tailgating)
- Blocking Passing Lanes
- Double Parking or Parking in Handicap Spaces
- Blocking Traffic
- Competing on the Road (‘Racing’ another lane)
- Honking the Horn
- Quickly Changing Lanes or Cutting another Driver Off
- Driving While Distracted
- Construction Work that Causes Delays/ Detours
- Heavy Traffic
- Speeding or Going Below the Limit
- Lack of Signal Use
Throughout outreach and education programs, we work to offer the public tools to assess their own behavior and recognize the signs of aggressive driving. As more people understand the many behaviors that can become aggressive and see their behavior in a new light, they can begin to adopt safer driving practices and manage risk more effectively.
If you yourself start to feel signs of Road Rage or Aggressive Driving try practicing the following tips to help keep you & others on the road safe.
- 1. Music: Some songs are better than others at reducing our blood pressure and heart rate, but everyone has that one jam that just does it. If you find yourself reacting to the other driver, instead of flipping the bird, press play on your song and zone into the lyrics.
- Focus on your breathing: Mediation can do so much when you’re feeling stressed out from reducing your blood pressure, lowering your heart rate, and giving you something else to focus on when you’re feeling angry. Instead of paying attention to the other driver’s actions, keep your eyes on the road and focus on taking in deep breaths and letting go.
- Find a safe place to pull over and stop: If you find yourself getting so frustrated and angry that you can’t see straight or you’re worried about the other driver, find somewhere you can sit for a moment. Make sure you calm yourself before you start driving again.
- Remind yourself that person is human: The truth is, everyone makes mistakes and everyone will have an off day here or there. Remind yourself of that when you feel the rage bubbling. Some people advocate that instead of getting angry, make an excuse or back story to why the other person acted the way they did. Maybe the driver’s wife was in labor and they were in a hurry, perhaps there is a sick kid in the car — whatever reason you choose, make it one that you can relate to and quickly forgive.
- Don’t personalize their behavior and choose to smile. You can’t help how others react, but you can choose not to feed into it. If you’re on the receiving end of road rage, instead of feeding into the tension, prefer to smile and not take the other driver’s actions.
If you happen to notice that others are exhibiting these behaviors, practice some of the help tips below to avoid provoking a reaction within the other driver.
Don’t be a Victim of Aggressive Driving
(The best offense against aggressive driving is a good defense)
- Cutting-off: When you merge, make sure you have plenty of room. Use turn signals before making your move. If you make a mistake, apologize with an appropriate gesture. If someone cuts you off, slow down and give them room to merge.
- Driving slowly in the left lane: Even if you are traveling at the speed limit, if someone wants to pass, move over to the right lane and let them by.
- Tailgating: Allow at least two seconds between you and the car ahead. If you think another car is driving too slowly and you are unable to pass, pull back and allow more space, not less. You should be able to see the headlights of the car behind you in your rear-view mirror.
- Gestures: Keep your hands on the wheel. Avoid making a gesture that might anger another driver, even seemingly harmless ones, like shaking your head.
- Be cautious and courteous: Use your turn signals; avoid using your horn, allow other drivers to merge.
- Don’t engage: One angry driver can’t pick a fight unless someone else is willing to join in. You can best protect yourself against angry drivers by refusing to return their anger.
- Steer clear: Give angry drivers plenty of room. If the other driver tries to engage you in a “road war,” put as much distance between your vehicle and theirs, and then try to get away as quickly as possible. Do not follow them, or under any circumstances pull over to “settle things.”
- Avoid eye contact: This can escalate the situation by making it too personal. Get help. If you have a cellular phone use it to call the police (in Colorado dial *CSP to report suspected road rage). Otherwise, drive to a place where there are people around, such as the police station, a convenience store, mall or even a hospital. Do not get out of your car. Do not drive home.
- Adjust your attitude and slow down: Consider the consequences of your own mental attitude behind the wheel. Give yourself extra time to get where you need to be and keep a positive, relaxed frame of mind.
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving Statistics
- 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving
- There about 1,500 fatalities and injuries due to road rage and aggressive driving each year
- 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm
- 2% of drivers admit to trying to run their aggressor off-road
Did you know that Aggressive Driving can be against the law?
Normally when someone mentions road rage, you may tend to think along the lines of obscene gestures, yelling, and even in some cases physical violence. What you didn’t know is that sometimes, Road Rage or Aggressive Driving can result in more than just that.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.” In other words, it’s a violent act on the road that leads to a criminal offense.
Aggressive driving is most commonly charged under the reckless driving statute, but if the driving behavior escalates it can result in a variety of other safety citations and criminal charges. In 1998, Arizona became the first state to enact a law making aggressive driving a crime. State laws help to define what constitutes as aggressive driving and stipulate the related fines and penalties. Often, a driver must demonstrate more than one action to be considered aggressive.
Usually, the cause for road rage is aggressive driving. Although this isn’t always the case, it does tend to be the most common. Aggressive driving is considered as “operating a vehicle in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property”. Unlike road rage, aggressive driving is only a traffic offense, not criminal. Even though the offense is not the same, it is still just as dangerous.
Remember: Aggressive driving is a traffic offense. Road rage is a criminal offense. Both can have horrible results.
Here at the A.R. Davis Insurance Agency, we encourage you to drive safely!