According to AAA, any unsafe driving behavior, performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety, can constitute aggressive driving. If you’re in a hurry, you probably don’t realize how aggressive you are and the danger you’re putting others in.
AAA gives these examples of aggressive driving behaviors:
- Speeding in heavy traffic
- Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
- Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers
According to a study conducted by the National Safety Council, aggressive driving is a factor in 50 percent of all crashes. A 2016 AAA study found that nearly 80 percent of drivers admitted to expressing significant anger, aggression or road rage in the past year.
Maybe the most startling thing from the AAA study: “Approximately 8 million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.”
Don’t drive aggressively just because another driver does something that angers or annoys you. It’s not worth it.
Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage
Think your driving behavior is worse than that? You may have “road rage,” which is an extreme case of aggressive driving. Road rage can lead to accidents and criminal charges, as it directly puts other drivers at risk. When a person engages in road rage, they may be using their car as a weapon. That’s why this is such a serious issue. Examples of road rage include:
- Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
- Throwing objects
- Forcing a driver off the road
Road rage is usually not the result of a single incident on the road. If a car cut you off on the highway while you were having an otherwise pleasant day, it probably wouldn’t trigger you to retaliate. Instead, people with road rage are often extremely stressed, likely dealing with a variety of other issues (financial problems, family struggles, etc.). It’s possible that someone’s aggressive driving escalates to road rage if these circumstances continue.
Wondering how Washington State’s drivers compare to other states? An online study by Auto Insurance Center looked at over 65,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag #RoadRage. They found that use of the tag peaks at 6 p.m., a peak commuting time. Washington State ranked 10th in the nation for drivers using that hashtag, and Seattle ranked 12th among cities.
How To Prevent Aggressive Driving/Road Rage
While people who have road rage symptoms are likely entrenched in their behavior, there are steps you can take to be safer on the road.
- Allow time for your trip
- Listen to calm, soothing music
- Be polite and yield to other aggressive drivers
- Keep safe following distance
- Use your turn signals
- Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes
- Avoid prolonged eye contact with other drivers
- Forget about winning; the highway is no place to pick a fight
The Washington State Patrol has an Aggressive Driving Apprehension Team (ADAT) that uses undercover patrol vehicles to keep an eye on drivers. This program is especially vigilant in looking for cars driving dangerously around semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles, as those crashes are much deadlier.
Legal Options After A Car Accident
If you or a loved one has been a victim of aggressive driving or road rage and suffered a serious injury as a result, it may be time to speak with a personal injury attorney. Aggressive driving and road rage are complicated issues in civil law, and an attorney with experience in insurance law may be able to help you navigate the claims process.
To speak with a personal injury lawyer about your rights and your specific case, contact Davis Law Group, P.S., at (206) 539-0969 for a free case evaluation.