Aggressive drivers are more dangerous than drunk drivers as their actions cause at least double the fatalities of the latter mentioned group. Their actions disrupt traffic flow, frighten or infuriate other drivers and, of course, endanger everyone else on the road.
You have seen them almost daily tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, cutting off other drivers, flashing headlights and passing on the shoulder. In extreme cases, their behavior escalates to ramming the other vehicle or the driver brandishing a weapon.
Do not engage and seek help
Aggressive drivers have little regard for the safety of others. Research from the Arizona State University Center for Problem-Oriented Policing found that aggressive driving behavior caused two-thirds of U.S. traffic fatalities, kill two to four times more people than drunk drivers and have a potentially negative halo effect on other drivers, who may find themselves mimicking this egregious behavior.
Defensive driving is the key to help you avoid these situations and not become a victim from the actions of an aggressive driver. Here are some things to consider:
- Remain cautious, stay courteous: Use your turn signals, do not follow too closely, let other drivers merge when they signal and do not honk the horn. If you are driving in the passing lane and another vehicle approaches from behind, move to the right lane and let that driver pass you.
- Do not engage: It is not a good idea to fight fire with fire. Your best protection against an angry driver is to not return the anger. Do not take the bait.
- Avoid gestures: Seemingly harmless ones such as shaking your head or making eye contact may trigger an eruption from the other driver. And do not give the other driver an obscene gesture. Such an action may lead to an escalating situation.
- Steer clear: Maintain your distance from a driver bent on taking out his or her anger on you. Avoid following them or pulling over in order to “resolve things.” It is best to get away from the area as soon as possible.
- Seek help: If things have gotten out of control and you have a cellphone, contact authorities right away. Drive to a place where people are present. This would include a convenience store, police station or hospital. Never get out of your car and do not drive home.
Think about what may happen if an aggressive driver influences your behavior. The result could endanger the lives of you and your passengers.
Stay relaxed as best you can
You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can control your own behavior. This mantra applies to many aspects in a person’s life, and this includes when getting behind the wheel. Stay relaxed as much as you can when driving. And, if confronted by an aggressive driver, do not engage. Seek help if necessary.