Aggressive Driving Endangers Everyone on the Road
While an auto accident may occur for various reasons, certain patterns of behavior are more likely to cause a crash. Aggressive driving is a factor that can increase the chances of an accident and endanger everyone one the road. Any activity that displays aggression can constitute aggressive driving. This may include tailgating, flashing headlights, speeding or weaving through traffic. Aggressive driving can also include speeding and reckless driving.
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According to the New York State government website, the New York State Police, an aggressive driver is a person who “Operates a motor vehicle in a selfish, bold or pushy manner, without regard for the rights or safety of the other users of the streets and highways.” Aggressive driving may be influenced by congestion; busier roads frustrate drivers more easily, and they may be inclined to engage in aggressive behaviors.
In 1996, the American Automobile Association (AA), Potomac Club conducted a survey asking what drivers were worried about most in the Washington, D.C. area. Some 40 percent said they believed an aggressive driver was the greatest threat to safety.
According to the NYS website, the New York State Police and local police agencies are focusing efforts to reduce dangerous and aggressive driving. Excessive speeding and reckless driving are especially concerning. Agencies also want to target the following behaviors: frequent or unsafe lane changes, failure to signal, tailgating, failure to yield Right of Way, ignoring traffic controls, impaired driving, cell phone/electronic device use while driving.
Aggressive driving is not the same as “Road Rage”; the latter describes acts of physical assault that stem from disagreements between drivers. An example of road rage may include hitting someone with your car out of anger, or causing physical harm to a driver or their vehicle. These actions are criminal offenses, and not the same as aggressive driving.
Safety Precautions Can Help Avoid Accidents
There are several precautions drivers can take to avoid getting into an accident with an aggressive driver. The New York State Police advises drivers to stay calm and keep their distance. If there is an aggressive driver around, do not pass unless it is necessary. If you do need to change lanes, do so safely; be sure to look before changing lanes. If you find yourself in front of an aggressive driver and are unable to change lanes, remain where you are and maintain the appropriate speed. If the driver uses hostile gestures, do not respond.
If you encounter an aggressive driver or you believe a driver may be impaired, you can alert the police by pulling off the road and calling 911.
There are also tips to avoid aggressive driving behaviors, such as observing common courtesy and intentionally avoiding hostile actions. For example, avoid blocking the passing lane and allow vehicles to pass you. Tailgating, in which one car is too close to another, is an aggressive driving behavior that unnecessarily puts both drivers at risk. When driving, be sure to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. If you are changing lanes, be sure to signal first and turn it off after changing lanes. Don’t change lanes if it cuts another driver off. Additionally, only use your horn when necessary. Excessive honking may only exacerbate aggressive drivers.
You can also make an effort to reduce your own stress, to avoid engaging in aggressive driving yourself. The NYS website states, “It is important for individuals to have a set of responses to cope with frustration. The most important advice is to remain patient in traffic congestion. You can gain a sense of control by realizing that people behave differently in different situations and that environmental factors may effect others to a greater or lesser degree than they effect you. Information about why a driver may be acting in a certain way will make their behavior more predictable to you, and you will be able to take action to avoid a confrontation, if necessary.”
Legal Help for Car Accident Victims
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