Every motorist on the road is at risk if a driver behaves aggressively. Unfortunately, driver aggression is very common.
More than 80 percent of motorists responding to one survey conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety admitted to experiencing road rage over the course of the prior year. Many motorists indicated they had acted on their road rage in aggressive ways, meaning they were actually engaging in high-risk behaviors likely to cause serious harm to others.
Drivers need to be aware of how dangerous driver aggression can be. Avoiding angering other motorists, staying away from aggressive drivers, and not becoming aggressive yourself are three ways to protect yourself from the substantial risks that arise when motorists behave in an unsafe way due to road rage.
Aggressive Driving Accident Dangers
According to AAA Foundation, a study of auto accidents over a four-year time period revealed approximately half of all collisions involved drivers engaging in aggressive behavior in the time immediately leading up to the accident. There are many different kinds of driving behavior which are considered to be aggressive, all of which can result in an automobile accident.
Some of the behaviors identified by AAA Foundation as high-risk aggressive behaviors include:
- Drivers cutting off other motorists, especially if the driver who cuts someone off then proceeds to slow down immediately after doing so.
- Drivers who follow too closely behind other vehicles. Motorists are supposed to leave at least a four-second following distance to reduce the chances of a rear-end crash. This is measured by seeing how much time it takes between the time your car passes a fixed object and the car in front goes past that same fixed object.
- Drivers who speed. Excessive speeds, especially in high-traffic conditions, increase both the likelihood of an accident and the potential severity of any crash which occurs.
- Drivers who weave in and out of traffic. Motorists are especially dangerous when engaging in this behavior if they do not use their signals to indicate their intentions before moving from one lane to another.
- Drivers who block other cars from moving into different lanes, or drivers who use their headlights as a method of trying to punish other vehicles on the road.
Any motorist who engages in these behaviors is significantly increasing the possibility of an accident. You should avoid these aggressive driving behaviors, even if you are frustrated or annoyed while driving.
If you see another motorist engaging in the aggressive driving behaviors, don't make rude gestures or respond in a way likely to escalate the situation. If you believe the aggressive motorist is behaving dangerously, consider contacting the police, if you can do so safely, in order to report what is going on and perhaps prevent an accident.
At the very least, steer clear of the driver who is showing signs of aggression so you do not end up becoming the victim of the angry driver's unsafe behavior. A driver who fails to follow traffic laws or use reasonable care behind the wheel is breaching his or her duty of care to other motorists, and can be found liable for any resulting injuries.