How to Recognise and Avoid Aggressive Driving

There are a lot of lone workers who drive as part of their job. It is human nature to develop bad habits, take short cuts and become possessive towards things we see as our own.
Now, I’m not saying this article is aimed at you…. But is it?

Over 50% of the five million yearly car crashes in the United States are caused by aggressive drivers, with speeding being the most prevalent contributor to this statistic. (TeenSafe, 2018) ¹

Aggressive Driving Statistics for the U.S:

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. (SafeMotorist.com, 2019)
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. (SafeMotorist.com, 2019)
  • Male and younger drivers ages 19-39 were significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviours. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2016)
  • Half of the drivers who are on the receiving end of aggressive behaviour, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behaviour themselves. (SafeMotorist.com, 2019)
  • 2% of drivers admit to trying to run an aggressor off the road at least once. (SafeMotorist.com, 2019)
  • In 2014, 0.7% of drivers admitted to regularly blocking other vehicles from changing lanes.
    0.3% of drivers admitted to regularly cutting off other vehicles deliberately.
    0.1% of drivers admitted to regularly bumping or ramming other vehicles intentionally. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2016) ²

How to Avoid Aggressive Drivers

Learn to recognise aggressive driving behaviours by knowing what behaviours look like. Knowing this will help you quickly identify vehicles that are being driven dangerously.

Use your mirrors and peripheral vision to actively monitor the area around your vehicle. When you see a vehicle being driven aggressively make a mental note of the vehicle and its position. Stay alert to the likelihood that driver may create hazards that you’ll need to deal with. When you see an aggressive driver, make your avoidance plan. Most often, the best solution is to let them go ahead. Find a safe place, adjust your lane position a little so they can see the way past you is clear. You may want to gently reduce your speed to encourage them to pass.

If an aggressive driver enters your safe driving zone (the area around your car) and you’re feeling threatened, you may want to find a safe place to pull over and let that driver get well ahead of you. If you’re experiencing numerous aggressive drivers on your usual route, you can avoid them by going a different way. ³

How to Avoid Becoming an Aggressive Driver

Make a plan and give yourself enough time to get were you are going. Not knowing where you’re going or not having enough time to get there are among the most common reasons for aggressive driving behaviours. Avoid those traps: think about the route you’re going to take and make a trip plan with a realistic schedule. Make adjustments when trips don’t proceed exactly as planned. Don’t take your problems and frustrations with you into the car. Getting behind the wheel when you’re upset, frustrated or angry can be an invitation to poor driving behaviours.

Don’t let your emotional state be a negative influence on how you drive. If you’re driving and you feel your stress level creeping up, turn on some relaxing music, open a window or practice a gentle breathing technique. Pull over and take a break, drink some water and stretch your legs. Think about your own driving. Check how closely you follow the vehicle in front of you, and how much space you leave when you pass a vehicle. Be honest and fix any poor driving habits you notice. ⁴ 

How to Be a Safe Driver

Having a safety zone of at least two seconds between your car and the next vehicle is recommended during normal driving conditions. Bad weather, traffic conditions, and personal preferences could all require the safety zone to be larger. To gauge an adequate amount of space while driving on the motorway, first choose a stationary object on the side of the road. As the vehicle in front of you passes that object, begin counting: “one one-thousand, two one-thousand.” If you pass the stationary object before you finish saying “two one-thousand” your safety zone is less than two seconds and is therefore too small.

Other drivers will often perceive your safety zone as an opportunity to jump in front of you, temporarily removing your safety zone.  The potential anger at being cut off can quickly escalate into road rage and irrational, dangerous driving decisions. However, it is best to keep your cool and develop a habit of immediately re-establishing your safety zone. On average, it only takes two seconds to re-establish a safety zone. That means, even if you get cut off thirty times in a day, you will have invested only one additional minute in your safety.

Plan Ahead

By looking farther along the road you will see the situation sooner, have more time to process the information, and ultimately, more time to react. As you drive, you should constantly be thinking of what you would do if an incident happened in front of you. Train yourself to look for escape routes everywhere and soon it will become an automatic part of your driving technique. This technique will help to prevent you from either causing a rear-end collision with a vehicle in front of you or sustaining one from a vehicle behind you. ⁵

It is important to look for an escape route or paths you can take to avoid an incident, in every type of driving condition. While your safety zone gives you the opportunity to react on the road, escape routes give you options.

Being aware of what is going on around you and being able to adapt to different situations will improve your driving. Making sure you keep a sensible distance between your vehicle and the next, as well staying calm in aggravating situations will help ensure you get home safe.

1 & 2 – https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/  This is a fantastic resource full of facts about all things vehicular

3 – https://roadsafetyatwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Tailgate-Meeting-Guide-Aggressive-Driving-FINAL-Jul-8-20.pdf

4 – https://roadsafetyatwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Tailgate-Meeting-Guide-Aggressive-Driving-FINAL-Jul-8-20.pdf

5 – https://www.fleetmanagementweekly.com/establish-maintain-safety-zones-avoid-rear-end-collisions/



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