A recent survey by AAA found that nearly 80 percent of the respondents admitted to expressing significant anger behind the wheel.
The survey, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, also found that nearly half of the 2,705 drivers surveyed admitted to taking the following actions when behind the wheel:
- 51% — Tailgating on purpose
- 47% — Yelling at another driver
- 45% — Honking to show anger or annoyance
- 33% — Making angry gestures
- 24% — Trying to block another driver’s lane change
- 12% — Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
- 4% — Leaving the vehicle to confront another driver
- 3% — Hitting another vehicle
What’s most concerning is that so many people display some aggressive tendencies on the road. Nine out of 10 people believe that aggressive drivers are a serious threat, according to the survey. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that in more than half of all fatal crashes, aggressive driving is a contributing factor.
What can you do to help curb aggressive driving? Here are 10 tips to get you started.
- Be aware. The first step to preventing aggressive driving is to know what you’re feeling before you get behind the wheel. Never drive when you are angry, upset, sad, feeling ill or just received bad news. You need time to calm down so that you can drive safely and responsibly, not take your frustrations and anger out on other drivers.
- Look first before switching lanes. You want to make sure you have sufficient space to change lanes. Then use your turn signal so other drivers know what you’re about to do. This will help cut down on inadvertently offending other drivers and ratcheting up their anger and impatience at your thoughtless maneuver.
- Stay to the right if you’re going slow. This is common courtesy. The left lane is for passing and faster driving. The right lane is for those drivers who are going to exit or are want to drive at slower speeds.
- Beware of the tendency to tailgate. No one likes a tailgater, so don’t do this yourself. If you find yourself creeping up on another vehicle, slow down so you don’t follow too closely.
- Be on the lookout for speeding, aggressive, tailgating drivers. Steer clear of them to avoid any unpleasant or dangerous confrontations.
- Never engage with an aggressive driver. Reacting is just inviting confrontation, which could quickly escalate into a dangerous situation.
- Contact the police immediately if you are confronted and the situation gets out of hand. Your safety, and that of your passengers, could be at stake.
- Resist the urge to take another driver’s actions personally. Maybe they’re having a bad day, there’s a reason for their actions or they don’t realize what they’re doing. You don’t know what might be going on in their life, so try to give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t overreact.
- Forget pride behind the wheel. Concentrate on driving safely and courteously rather than being right or being treated courteously by other drivers.
- Don’t be afraid to get professional help if you believe you have problems with aggressive behavior behind the wheel. Emotional issues can cloud anyone’s judgment. Personal tragedy, misfortune and disappointments in life can be dealt with, if you seek help from an objective professional.
Find out if you’re an aggressive driver
How do you deal with life’s everyday frustrations? Do you sometimes feel like you want to bump the car ahead because the driver is being discourteous, cutting off other drivers, making obscene gestures, weaving in and out of traffic, or tailgating?
The AAA offers a quick quiz you can take to see if you’re an aggressive driver, if you’re not aggressive or somewhere in-between. You’ll receive tips and feedback in each section of the quiz.
For example, if your score indicates moderate anger, the recommendation might be to relax and enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the pettiness and annoying behavior of other drivers. Listening to soothing music or enjoying conversation with your passengers may be helpful.
In addition, giving yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination will help you better deal with unexpected delays in traffic, inclement weather, blocked streets or malfunctioning traffic signals.