Aggressive Driver or Road Rage Fanatic?

aggressive driving aggressive driver or road rage fanatic

Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on our highways and roadways here in the Kansas City area and nationwide. According to NHTSA and the Auto Vantage auto club show, 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.

In fact, half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as a rude gesture or tailgating, admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves.

What is scarier? Road rage.

  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm
  • 2% of drivers admit to trying to run an aggressor off the road

Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage

You might think that aggressive driving is the same as road rage, but it is not.

NHTSA defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Aggressive driving is a traffic offense and includes driving behaviors such as:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating or following too closely
  • Frequent, erratic and unsafe lane changes
  • Passing in zones where passing is prohibited
  • Failure to obey stop signs, traffic signals and railroad signals

Road rage, as defined by The National Safety Council, is a physical assault of a person or vehicle as a result of a traffic incident. Bottom line, it involves using a motor vehicle as a weapon with the intention of doing harm to others or their property.

Road rage is when traffic incidents escalate into much more serious situations. For example, a driver becomes enraged over another driver’s actions (i.e.,speeding or erratic lane changing), so much so that he overreacts and retaliates with some form of violence such as a physical confrontation, an assault with a motor vehicle or even use of a weapon.

Tips for Handling Road Rage

If you find yourself the target of road rage, the first thing to do is remain calm. These situations can be a little scary so here are some tips on how to handle yourself around an angry, aggressive, or bullying driver.

  • Do not react or retaliate; this will only make the situation worse
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Avoid inflammatory or rude gestures and horn honking
  • Open a passing lane if you’re on a multi-lane highway, enabling others to pass
  • Leave a little bumper room and avoid tailgating
  • Use your turn signals so other drivers know when you plan to change lanes
  • Ignore the behavior
  • Smile and mouth the words “I’m sorry”

However, if the road rage driver starts following you, stay calm. This is the time to call the local police or highway patrol and head to the nearest police station.

Be sure to practice safe driving habits and follow the rules of the road. Your safety and that of your passengers is much more important.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published January 22, 2016. It was reviewed on August 11, 2022 for content and accuracy.

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