Are You an Aggressive Driver?

aggressive driving

It's summertime, and that means vacations and no school, but it can also mean a lot of time on the road. With everyone travelling to vacations all summer, roads become congested quickly, drivers get tired and agitated, and people start speeding to get to their destinations. I'm just as eager as the next person to get where I'm going as quickly as possible, but from time to time it's important that we evaluate our own driving habits and ask ourselves if we ever drive aggressively.

The number one cause of aggressive driving is congestion or traffic. Speeding alone is the biggest factor that leads to Pennsylvania accidents. Combine that with crowded roadways, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Examples of aggressive driving include:

  • Riding on someone's bumper, also known as tailgating
  • Speeding
  • Driving erratically - failing to stay in your own lane, speeding up and braking suddenly, etc.
  • Racing to catch up to another driver
  • Cutting in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes in an improper and unsafe manner, such as not using turn signals or flashing them twice as you're already moving into the lane
  • Honking, yelling, cursing, facial and hand gestures
  • Passing in a no-passing zone
  • Flashing lights or high beams inappropriately
  • Riding too fast for weather conditions (rain, ice, snow, etc.)

Please use the following tips to help reduce the number of aggressive drivers on the road:

Avoid Becoming a Victim

  • Recognize aggressive drivers and their behaviors.
  • Be a patient and courteous driver, following traffic laws and safe driving practices. Drive defensively.
  • Don't ride in the passing lane. Pass in the left lane, but then move back to the right lane.
  • Use signals correctly with enough time so that other drivers can see you.
  • Use your horn only when necessary - lightly tap the horn instead of blaring it.
  • Maintain a safe distance between you and other vehicles.
  • Don't use your high beams except when necessary, such as on a country road at night.
  • Avoid offensive bumper stickers or vanity plates. They may spark anger and fuel aggressive driving tendencies.

Encountering an Aggressive Driver

  • If you encounter an aggressive driver, safely move out of their way - even if you need to pull over or take an exit on the highway. It will irritate you less and also keep you safer in the long run.
  • Don't challenge an aggressive driver or try to "pay them back" for their behavior. It can lead to road rage, which is extreme aggressive driving that leads to physical violence or the risk of injury.
  • Avoid eye contact and ignore hand or facial gestures and honking.
  • Report aggressive drivers to the police. If you're driving with one or more passengers, have them record the driver's license plate number, a description of the vehicle, and location where the aggressive driving occurred.

Lowering Your Own Stress

  • Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
  • Keep your cool and be patient as much as possible. Driving safely is more important than arriving at your destination five minutes earlier.
  • If you notice congestion bothers you, try to alter your schedule to avoid traffic whenever possible or take a different route.
  • Don't take another driver's behavior personally.

At our law firm, we've helped thousands of car accident victims since 1982. Passing a slow driver in a no-passing zone may seem harmless, but we've seen firsthand how one mistake can change lives forever. It may seem normal to drive 10 mph over the speed limit, but the extra force upon impact could mean the difference between life and death.

I encourage you to understand the risks of aggressive driving, know what to do if you encounter a dangerous driver, and take steps to lower your own stress level. It will help reduce your risk of being in an accident, and ultimately make our roadways safer for everyone.