Aggressive driving is an event that in recent years we see quite often on the U.S roads. We've all experienced it in different forms. This driving behavior is not expected to be absent from the roads any time soon.
An Aggressive driver present on the road can increase the number of waccidents. Aggressive driving behavior is especially dangerous when truck drivers are on the road . Accidents involving trucks are more deadly.
Aggressive driving plays a major role when it comes to an accident event on the road. Not only in publicized incidents of road rage but in a large number of fatal highway collisions.
The definition of aggressive driving according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) is - "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."
But is there a difference between road rage and aggressive driving?
Yes! There is:
Aggressive driving is a behavior that is dangerous for every participant on the road.
Road rage is most of the time an emotional reaction at the moment. You can prevent it by following these simple tips.
Who exactly can we qualify as an aggressive driver?
Most of the time men between the ages of 18 and 26 are showing aggressive behavior on the road. Also, the number of aggressive women drivers is also increasing. There is also a general increase in women on the roadways when the traffic is high at a rush-hour time.
How big is the aggressive driving problem?
State Farm and KRC Research conducted an online survey of 1,000 U.S. drivers. According to the survey, 2/3 of the (64 percent) U.S. drivers have experienced an act of aggressive driving.
Affected by aggressive driving already, a large number of drivers say their likelihood to engage in reckless driving increases during the winter holidays.
Survey Key Findings
43 percent of drivers reported that they have engaged in aggressive driving in the past three months.
32 percent of younger drivers (ages 18-29), 28 percent of middle-aged drivers (ages 30-49), and parents (30 percent) were significantly more likely to report being provoked to engage in aggressive driving around the major winter holidays compared to only 9 percent of older drivers (ages 50 and older) and non-parents (15 percent).
About half of survey respondents perceive men and women to be equally courteous when driving. When it comes to aggressive driving, however, the majority (54 percent) of drivers cite men as the most likely culprits of aggressive driving. Only one in 10 women are more likely to engage in aggressive driving. The remaining 37 percent of drivers reported men and women to be equal when it comes to aggressive driving.
The top situations most likely to make drivers aggressive are:
Traffic jams (63 percent)
Running late (55 percent)
Road closures or construction (47 percent)
Examples of aggressive driving?
- Оperating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
- Speeding in heavy traffic
- Not using the turn signal properly
- Driving above the maximum speed limit
- Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down
- Running red lights
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Passing where prohibited
- Illegal driving on road shoulders, in a ditch, or on sidewalks
- Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicles displaying them
- Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
- Using headlights or brakes to "punish" other drivers
- Taking frustrations out on а motorist
- Failure to yield the right of way
Let us take speeding as one of the major aggressive driving behaviors
According to the National highway traffic safety administration speeding is one of the main factors for aggressive driving accidents.
For every third car accident speeding is the main reason behind it. In 2017, speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities.
Speed-related crashes cost the tax payer an estimated $40 billion per year.
Speed is a factor in many crashes because of the physical forces at work. It takes longer to stop a speeding vehicle. Speed prevents the driver's ability to detect dangerous situations.
The IIHS reports that crash severity is directly related to speed. If the speed of the vehicle increases by 50 percent the crash damage will be double. The increased force is the reason for severe injuries and fatalities. Seat belts, airbags, and child safety seats are less effective at high rates of speed.
Speed limits are being used for the safety of every participant on the road. You need to always take into consideration the weather conditions and adjust your speed. By doing so you prevent accidents from happening and you keep every driver around you safe.
NHTSA created guides and toolkits to help spread the message about safe driving. Tips on what you can do if you encounter an aggressive driver on the road are also included.
But how exactly are all these behaviors are affecting the other drivers on the road?
According to another research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, millions of drivers engaged in the following angry and aggressive behaviors during the previous year, including:
Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (8 million drivers)
Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (6 million drivers)
What's Causing the Increase in Aggressive Driving?
Dangerous driving is on the rise-as you as any driver has noticed in the last years. The factors that are contributing are:
Longer commute times,
Increase in congested roads
General decrease cultural empathy.
According to the NHTSA, traffic fatalities and injuries due to road rage incident could increase by 50% between 1996 and 2020. There are a lot of accidents that are not reported. This brings us to the conclusion that aggression is even higher.
This increase in aggressive driving is no more just data from a statistics report. It's deadly. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 56% of accidents involve aggressive driving. One study found more than half of all fatal crashes involved unsafe driving behaviors.
Don't be a Victim of Aggressive Driving
Cutting-off. When you are going to merge, make sure that you leave a lot of room. Do not forget to use turn signals before making your move. In case someone cuts you off, give them the appropriate space to merge.
Driving slowly in the left lane. In some cases, you will be driving at the speed limit in the left lane. There will be vehicles that will want to pass you. Make a maneuver to the right lane and let them by.
Tailgating. Make sure that you have at least two seconds between you and the car ahead. If you see that the car in front of you is driving slowly and you can't pass, try to leave more space between the two vehicles. The headlights of the car behind you should be always visible in your rear-view mirror.
Gestures. If you see a reckless driver avoid gestures as much as possible. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and drive calmly.
Be cautious and courteous. Try to avoid using your horn. Always use your turn signals and allow drivers to merge.
Don't engage. Do not let the anger of the other driver affect you. Try to stay calm and assess the situation and act accordingly.
Steer clear. If you see an angry driver on the road make sure you leave them plenty of room. If the other driver tries to intimidate you try to make the distance between you as big as possible. Do not follow them or try to engage in a physical brawl.
Avoid eye contact. Eye contact can be a trigger for the angry driver on the road. Avoid it as much as possible. If they start to follow you try to call the police and drive to a place where there are plenty of people. Do not get out of your car and do not drive home!
Adjust your attitude and slow down. Always take a deep breath and try to adjust your attitude when you are behind the wheel. Always be positive while on the road and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
How to put a stop to aggressive driving?
Being the fleet manager you have to pay close attention to how aggressive driving is influencing your drivers. Observing how the drivers' behavior is changing when they are exposed to road aggression and how they are reacting. You need to intervene in a timely matter to prevent the deadly consequences of aggressive driving.
What can you do?
- You need to pay close attention to the drivers' stress levels. If their stress levels are high it is more likely that they will drive aggressively.
- Make sure that there are no scheduling issues that can put extra pressure on drivers.
- You need to be the person who will show your drivers how to handle their aggressive driving behavior. Educate them that they need to learn how to dial it back. Take a deep breath and relax.
- Motivate your drivers to slow down. After all, speed is the main reason for road accidents. When you drive fast your reaction time is more limited. Your drivers shouldn't be speeding and driving at the maximum speed limit.
- Driver fatigue can be the reason behind poor decision making. As a fleet manager, you need to pay close attention to this.
We can't stop aggressive driving as a whole. But we need to learn how to raise awareness among drivers. encourage them to prevent aggressive driving as much as possible. Helping our drivers while they are on the road should be a top priority.