It may be a good time for a reminder to treat everyone you meet with respect, including those behind the wheel in the lane next to you.
Have you ever been confronted by or dealt with an aggressively impolite driver? How about a tailgater or an eagerly loud honker or that person who likes to switch lanes abruptly and cut you off? You might have come face to face with another driver who likes to use a type of “sign language” to communicate his displeasure about an inconvenience he believes you caused him. If so, you may have felt your blood pressure and your anger start to rise. Did you pause… and count to three?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as “a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” These offenses include speeding, the failure to signal, reckless driving, following too closely behind another vehicle, failing to yield, unsafe lane changes or passing on the right and disregarding traffic signals/devices. Put two or more of these actions together and the result is a display of aggressive driving.
The definition of anger is, according to Merriam-Webster, “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” I’m sure we can all agree that road rage or road anger is becoming a too-common occurrence. Studies have shown that aggressive driving often plays a substantial role in traffic accidents. An angry driver doesn’t take the time to realize how dangerous his actions are and that he may be risking his own life and the lives of others. As our population continues to grow and more drivers are licensed and on the road, this problem won’t go away.
So what can you do when confronted with road rage or an aggressive driver? Honestly, pause and count to three. As frustrated as you might become, keep your cool and do your best to ignore the rude behavior. It may not be your first impulse but it will be the safest one. Ignoring the bad behavior will reduce your risk of an accident and diffuse the situation rather than make it worse.
In a nutshell, practice common courtesy. Treat other drivers the way YOU want to be treated. THINK before you react. Leave that horn alone unless it’s an emergency. Stay a safe distance from the driver ahead and if you are faced with an aggressive driver and take the high road. Don’t brake-check, race or challenge. If you see an aggressive driver, get out of his way. You may miss a light or a turn or arrive a bit later than you’d want, but that’s okay. Proving that you are in the right is not worth a possible confrontation. What is most important is getting safely to your destination.
In the event of a possible accident or claim, know where your auto ID card is located and how to contact your insurance company and/or your agent. If you are not at fault, the other driver’s insurance should respond. Get insurance information from all parties, collect the names of potential witnesses, take pictures and jot down good notes regarding time and location, etc. And if the other insured becomes aggressive, remember to diffuse the situation however possible. If you should have any questions, your insurance agent should be happy to help answer them.