Eighty percent of motorists surveyed for the AAA Foundation's annual Traffic Safety Culture Index consider aggressive driving to be one of the biggest threats to on-the-road safety. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms this claim.
Learning how to recognize and respond to aggressive driving can help you stay safer behind the wheel. And, if you've already been injured in an accident caused by an aggressive driver, exploring your legal options can help you decide if filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit is the right decision.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
While road rage incidents may be the first thing that comes to mind for most people when thinking about aggressive driving, the term actually encompasses a wide range of on-the-road behaviors that, as defined by the NHTSA, “endanger other persons or property.” Aggressive driving doesn't have to be something as dramatic as running someone off the road; it can be as simple as failing to signal or yield the right of way.
Speeding is actually the aggressive driving behavior associated with the most fatal accidents. NHTSA data shows that speeding played a role in nearly 20 percent of fatal car and motorcycle crashes.
Other aggressive driving behaviors include:
- Following improperly, such as tailgating
- Running red lights
- Changing lanes erratically
- Passing where prohibited
- Boxing in other vehicles
- Racing other vehicles
- Driving too fast for current road or weather conditions
- Cutting off other drivers
- Making improper turns
- Failure to observe posted traffic signs
- Operating the vehicle erratically
- Taunting or making obscene gestures at other drivers
It can be extremely frightening to be on the receiving end of such behaviors. Data from the American Safety Council indicates that as many as 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.
What Causes Aggressive Driving?
For many motorists, aggressive driving behaviors can be brought on by everyday frustrations and inconveniences, such as getting caught in traffic or running late for work or an appointment. However, according to NHTSA research, motorists with antisocial or competitive personality traits such as impulsivity, egocentricity, poor problem-solving skills, unrealistic risk estimations, and an overestimation of driving prowess may be more likely to drive aggressively than others.
Additionally, some demographics are more prone to aggressive driving than others. Research shows that white men under the age of 30 are most at risk for driving aggressively.
Responding to Aggressive Drivers
Aggressive driving situations can escalate quickly, as they often trigger contentious driving behaviors from other drivers, making a bad situation even more dangerous. Stay safe. Use these tips to diffuse an aggressive driving incident:
- Get out of the aggressive driver's way as safely and as quickly as possible
- Avoid making eye contact
- Don't challenge the aggressive driver by speeding up or driving alongside them.
- Ignore rude gestures or taunts
- Report dangerous aggressive driving incidents to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
Do You Need an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer?
While some aggressive driving behaviors are simply rude and inconsiderate, those that result in crashes and serious injuries become a legal issue. If you were injured in an accident caused by an aggressive driver, you have options. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injuries and other accident-related losses.
Do you have questions about a potential aggressive driving accident case? Contact Sevenish Law's Indianapolis law office today to schedule a free initial consultation.