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Dealing with Aggressive Drivers

It’s never pleasant when someone cuts you off on the highway or tailgates your vehicle across city streets. When confronted with an aggressive driver, take charge of your actions so a bad situation doesn’t get worse.

Aggressive driving. Today, many drivers are operating their vehicles more aggressively. This occurs when a driver exceeds the speed limit, follows too closely, fails to obey traffic controls and makes improper turns and maneuvers, among other aggressive driving behaviors.

Road rage. Road rage occurs when an aggressive driver uses a vehicle or some other weapon to threaten or cause harm to another roadway user in response to a traffic incident. Road rage is an escalation of emotions generally ignited by aggressive driving behaviors.

Preventing aggressive driving and road rage
One key to prevention is to avoid engaging in the behaviors yourself and trying not to give other roadway users cause to become aggressive.

  • Avoid conflict. It is best to assume that other drivers’ mistakes are not personal.
  • Never attempt to take the right of way. It must give given to you by other drivers.
  • When using high-beam headlights, return to low-beam headlights as soon as you detect an oncoming vehicle.
  • Do not drive behind another vehicle with your high-beam headlights on.
  • Be as polite on the road as you would be in any other social situation. You cannot control traffic, but you can control your responses to it.

Responding to aggressive driving and road rage
Unfortunately, other drivers can become aggressive or enraged. If you are confronted by a driver displaying aggressive driving behaviors toward you, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not respond to the other driver. Avoid any escalation of conflict.
  • Avoid eye contact with the aggressive driver or occupants.
  • Be tolerant and forgiving. The aggressive driver may be having a really bad day and be looking for a way to vent anger.
  • Be sure to allow enough room around your vehicle so that you can pull out or around if someone approaches your vehicle.
  • Do not get out of your vehicle – it offers protection.
  • If necessary, contact 911 for assistance. If necessary, drive to a busy public place where there are witnesses, such as a hospital or fire station. Once there, use your horn to attract others’ attention if needed.