Avoiding Aggressive Driving

Thousands of people lose their lives every year in car accidents around the world. A fair number of these tragic events could be avoided if drivers adopted a more safety-conscious attitude each time they get behind the wheel. No one sets out to cause an accident. Most drivers find it difficult to come to terms with the consequences of an accident caused by carelessness or a momentary lapse of concentration.

There are, however, things you can do to avoid becoming another statistic. Aggressive drivers threaten the safety and lives of others. Other drivers threaten their own safety simply by not wearing a seat belt. These are just a few examples of actions that can lead to tragedy, actions that could be avoided if you adopt the mentality of a safe driver.

We all have good days and bad days. Some days you get behind the wheel in a positive frame of mind, while on other days, you might be frustrated or running late.Aggressive driving is one of the leading causes of crashes and fatalities on our highways and roads. Many drivers don't realize they're driving aggressively until they get into a dangerous situation.

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In the United States, the term aggressive driving covers a diverse range of unsafe driving behaviors. So far, 15 states have adopted aggressive driving laws and 11 states have passed specific laws that clearly define certain aggressive actions.

For example, California treats aggressive driving the same way it treats reckless driving, with severe penalties if you are found guilty. Examples of aggressive driving offenses in Arizona are speeding, tailgating, failure to obey a traffic control device, and unsafe lane changing. Taking risks on the road can get you into legal trouble, as well as endangering yourself and others on the road. Consult your local State Highway Safety Office for a detailed list of aggressive driving offenses in your state.

Aggressive Driving Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have been working together curb aggressive driving. According to their research, about 60 percent of drivers surveyed said that they had witnessed examples of unsafe driving. Over half of respondents admitted they had driven aggressively.

In Canada, previously released collision statistics (Transport Canada) reveal that 27 percent of fatalities and 19 percent of serious injuries are caused by speeding. When you consider that most people killed in speed-related crashes were the drivers themselves, you have a good incentive to curb your speed.

Authorities in the UK have used speed cameras and financial penalties to deter speeding drivers for many years. Efforts to stamp out aggressive behavior have increased in recent years, with some offenders being forced to take their driving tests again. In some cases, the authorities are seizing vehicles to keep the worst offenders off the road.

Are you an aggressive driver?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you will probably get pulled over sooner or later. If you're lucky, you will only get a warning, but if your actions are bad enough, you may face serious penalties.

Answer these questions honestly:

  • Do you tailgate slower vehicles?
  • Do you race to beat red lights or run stop signs?
  • Do you weave in and out of traffic to improve your position?
  • Do you pass illegally on the wrong side?
  • Do you fail to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be an aggressive driver and be putting yourself, your passengers, and other drivers at an increased risk. Many law enforcement agencies around the world are taking hard stances on aggressive driving. They know that enforcement and education will reduce the death toll on our roads.

Tips on dealing with aggressive drivers

Even if you adopt safe driving behaviors, you will probably still encounter other aggressive drivers while you are behind the wheel. Here are some tips to help deal with them...

  • Move out of the way and don't attempt to challenge an aggressive driver with your vehicle.
  • Stay calm and relaxed, and avoid making direct eye contact. Don't make any rude or offensive gestures, even if the other driver does so.
  • Avoid trying to block the passing lane. Leave it to the police and the cameras to catch the culprit, rather than endangering yourself.

Road Rage

Many people confuse aggressive driving with road rage. These are often two separate issues in the eyes of the law. Road rage, which is generally classified as a criminal offense, often occurs when an aggressive driver escalates after another driver challenges them. It can result in physical confrontation.

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