Driver aggression presents a significant risk to every motorist, passenger, bicyclist and pedestrian. A review of collisions conducted from 2003 to 2007 by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that more than half of all deadly car accidents involved at least one of the motorists in the collision engaging in a "potentially aggressive" action just before the crash happened.
If you are on the road, you may find yourself the victim of a driver who is angry and is acting out in an unsafe way. Close to 80 percent of drivers surveyed by AAA Foundation admitted to experiencing significant anger or rage while driving in the past year. What can you do if you encounter one of these drivers and you feel that you are at risk?
It is important to be able to recognize signs of aggression in other motorists so you can try to avoid becoming a victim of a driver who is doing something unsafe. You should always drive assertively, paying attention to what other motorists around you are doing so you can react if someone appears to be behaving erratically or if another motorist seems to be acting out of anger.
Some of the different behaviors that you should look out for which could be an indicator that another driver is aggressive include:
- Drivers who speed in traffic.
- A driver who is tailgating, or following your car too closely behind you.
- A driver who cuts off other motorists, especially if the driver slows down immediately after cutting off the rear driver.
- A driver who runs through a red light without stopping for the signal.
- A driver who is changing lanes without using his turn signals.
- A driver who is weaving in and out of traffic on a highway or busy road.
- A driver who appears to be blocking other motorists from changing lanes.
- A driver who appears to be blocking other motorists from passing.
- A driver who is using headlights or high beams in an unsafe way to hurt the eyes of other drivers intentionally out of anger.
When you encounter a driver like this, AAA Foundation has some tips to deal with confrontation or potential aggression including:
- Avoiding making eye contact with angry motorists.
- Driving to a police station, hospital, or fire station if you feel that another motorist is putting you at risk due to angry behavior.
- Staying calm and never responding to aggression with aggression.
- Leaving plenty of room to pull out safely when you park in case you are approached by someone with an aggressive or threatening manner.
- Staying locked in your car if you feel threatened.
- Using your horn to attract attention from others if someone is threatening you.
- Staying calm and courteous if you are confronted by a driver who is angry.
- Calling 911 if you feel as if your safety is at risk.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association also advises motorists to always be courteous while driving to try to avoid attracting the attention of an aggressive driver. As RMIIA explains: "the best offense against aggressive driving is a good defense."