AAA Tidewater Offers Tips to Avoid Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

dusk on highway rearview brake lights

Virginia Beach, VA (July 21, 2014) – With warmer temperatures, congested roads and the busy summer travel season in full swing, AAA Tidewater is reminding drivers of ways to avoid aggressive driving and road rage. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving is a serious problem on our nation’s roads and highways and a factor in up to 56 percent of fatal crashes. Road rage is less common than aggressive driving but far more dangerous.  Road rage is deliberate, uncontrolled anger that leads to violence or the threat of violence on the roads.

Both aggressive driving and road rage are unpredictable, can be ignited quickly, and can occur at any time. In addition, numerous studies indicate that we are all capable of acting out our anger when we’re behind the wheel, no matter our age, gender, or how considerate we might be in other circumstances. While aggressive driving is dangerous and often violates traffic laws, road rage is a crime. Consequences can include suspension or even revocation of your driver’s license.

“All too often, driving becomes a contest for many people,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affair for AAA Tidewater Virginia.  “By changing your approach to driving and allowing more time for your trip, you’ll make your road travel safer and more pleasant.”

Avoiding Road Rage

When motorists were surveyed, they consistently identified the following situations as ones that would anger and provoke them. AAA Tidewater reminds drivers to steer clear of these types of situations:

• Cutting people off. When you merge into traffic, use your turn signal, and make sure you have plenty of room to enter traffic without cutting someone off. If you accidentally do cut someone off, try to apologize with an appropriate gesture, such as a hand wave.  If someone cuts you off, take the high road:  Slow down and give them plenty of room.

• Driving slowly in the left lane. Even if you’re driving the speed limit, if you’re in the left lane and someone wants to pass, be courteous—move over and let them pass so you don’t anger drivers behind you.  The left lane is actually intended as a passing-only lane; otherwise, you’re expected to move to the right.

• Tailgating. Drivers can really get angry when another car follows them too closely. Allow adequate room between you and the car in front of you. Follow the two-second rule:  Note when the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark. It should take you at least two seconds to reach the same point.  If you’re being tailgated, put on your turn signal and pull over to allow the vehicle to pass.

Making obscene or provocative gestures.  Almost nothing makes other drivers angrier than an obscene hand gesture.  Even shaking your head may anger some drivers.  So be cautious and courteous—signal every time you merge or change lanes, as well as when you turn.

Honking your horn.  Your horn is intended for use in an emergency only.  Don’t honk at someone who’s driving slower than you want them to or who doesn’t move quickly enough from a traffic light.  It can make them angry and potentially cause an accident if other drivers try to figure out who is honking and don’t pay attention to their driving.

Aggressive Drivers - Do’s and Don’t

If you encounter an aggressive driver, AAA Tidewater suggests you follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t engage in their aggressive behavior
  • If another driver tries to pick a fight, steer clear and give them lots of room.
  • Do not pull off to the side of the road and try to settle things face to face.
  • If an angry motorist tries to get your attention, avoid making eye contact. If you think another driver is following you or trying to pick a fight, call the police on your cell phone anddrive to a place where there are lots of people.
  • Don’t get out of your car.
  • Don’t go home until you’re sure the aggressor is gone and it’s safe.

Adjust Your Attitude

  • Make your trip safer by allowing extra time to get to your destination and by listening to relaxing music or books on tape.
  • Put yourself in the other driver’s frame of mind. Whatever the reason, it has nothing to do with you personally. Stay cool and let other drivers deal with their own issues.
  • Finally, if you find yourself constantly angry in traffic, consider seeking professional help or counseling.

 To find out more about aggressive driving, go to https://www.aaafoundation.org/are-you-aggressive-driver, where you can take a quiz to find out whether or not you’re a calm driver.