In recent weeks, a relentless and historic heat wave has set scores of temperature records across the U.S. and shows no signs of letting up. But the asphalt may not be the only thing scorching on the road this summer. Studies have shown that people’s tempers flare when the mercury rises, and extreme heat can lead to aggressive driving.
Of the 5.3 million traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. each year, a substantial number are believed to be caused by aggressive driving, which is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Whether it’s speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off other drivers, or running red lights, aggressive driving has become commonplace on America’s roadways. Aggressive drivers may further try to threaten others on the road by shouting or making rude gestures at them. Extreme cases of aggressive driving escalate to road rage, which can end in violence.
How to Deal with Aggressive Drivers
Being thoughtful and courteous is a big part of being a safe and responsible commercial driver. However, in today’s world where crowded roads and busy schedules are the norm, being polite while driving does not guarantee that other motorists will respond in the same manner. Since commercial vehicles are the largest and, often, slowest vehicles on the road, professional drivers sometimes become the target of other drivers’ anger and frustration. If another driver exhibits aggressive behavior towards you:
Do not engage them. Instead, create as much distance as possible between yourself and the aggressive driver either by safely changing lanes or slowing down and allowing them to pass. Giving them a wide berth decreases your risk of getting involved in an accident caused by their aggressive driving behavior.
Don’t make any hostile maneuvers in return or try to “teach them a lesson.” It will only make matters worse and possibly expose yourself to danger.
Stay cool and calm, and don’t react to provocation. Ignore any obscene gestures and refuse to return them in any fashion. Even seemingly harmless reactions, such as shaking your head, can exacerbate the other driver’s anger.
Do not honk your horn. While it may seem appropriate to honk your horn at someone who is engaged in aggressive driving, you don’t know how that person may react.
Avoid eye contact. This may be seen as a challenging gesture and can turn a passing encounter into a dangerous confrontation. Besides, ignoring the aggressive driver and keeping your eyes on the road can encourage them to move along.
Report serious aggressive driving incidents to the police immediately. Provide as much information as possible so that the aggressive driver can be identified by law enforcement including make, model and color of the vehicle, its license plate number, location and direction of travel, as well as a description of the driver. By doing so, you could help prevent further aggressive driving incidents by the same driver and, quite possibly, an accident. Of course, per federal regulations, be sure to pull off the road to a safe and legal location before using a cell phone.
Forgive and forget. Not all aggressive driving behavior is directed at you. The other driver may just be having a really bad day.
Importantly, buckle up before hitting the road. It is the best defense against aggressive drivers.
Set a Good Example on the Road
While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can control how you react to them. No matter how foolish or deliberately irritating another driver becomes, the stakes can be high if you choose to escalate an already tense situation. That individual may respond in a far more hostile manner than you ever imagined. Set an example for other drivers by being courteous and obeying the rules of the road. Ultimately, safe driving is never about winning or losing…it’s about avoiding all preventable accidents and getting to your destination safely.
Article provided by Lancer Insurance co.