Most of us have been annoyed from time to time while behind the wheel. And many of us have been subjected to an irate motorist who tailgates, swerves, jambs on his brakes, or makes unsolicited hand gestures or verbal suggestions about how we should occupy our time.
This is the fourth post in our Safe Driving Series as we take a look at road rage and aggressive driving. Boston Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman and our staff encourage you to take a look at your own driving behavior while behind the wheel — studies continue to suggest that most motorists believe aggressive driving is a problem … they just don’t think they are among the violators.
Road rage and aggressive driving continues to be a factor in a significant number of serious and fatal Boston car accidents, as well as traffic accidents in Massachusetts and nationwide. One of the leading studies of aggressive driving was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and begins by detailing a case of Massachusetts road rage in which a 54-year-old bookkeeper shot a motorist with a crossbow.
While that is an extreme example, thousands of serious and fatal accidents are caused each year by aggressive driving. In fact, aggressive driving and road rage are not the same. Aggressive driving is the type of inconsiderate driving most of us experience on a weekly basis, while road rage is a criminal offense marked by violence or assault.
In 2009, AAA reported that more than half of all accidents can be linked to some form of aggressive driving. Aggressive driving frequently involves disobeying traffic control devices, tailgating, speeding, erratic or unsafe passing, driving on the shoulder and failure to yield.
“Aggressive driving and its consequences are all too common on our roadways. It’s easy to think ‘that other guy is the problem'” said Catherine L. Rossi, a AAA spokeswoman. “But anyone can become an aggressive driver just by one single action.”
And when it comes to aggressive driving, motorists tend to think in terms of the other guy. A 2008 report by AAA found that nearly 8 in 10 people think aggressive driving is a serious safety issue, even though many of those same motorists admitted to one or more of the driving behaviors that constitute aggressive driving.
Signs you may be an aggressive driver:
-You express frustration behind the wheel.
-You drive distracted.
-You tailgate or attempt to intimidate motorists into getting out of your way.
-You make frequent lane changes, with or without signaling.
-You frequently try to beat red lights or outright run them.
Reducing stress behind the wheel:
-Concentrate: Avoid distractions while behind the wheel.
-Relax: Listen to music or take a deep breath.
-Don’t Speed: Fewer crashes occur when drivers are traveling the same speed.
-Plan an alternate route: Take a different route, mix up your commute.
-Use public transportation: A bus, subway, train or taxi may even be quicker.
-Just be late: Being late is always better than being in an accident.
When confronted by an aggressive driver:
-Get out of the way: Don’t match aggression with aggression.
-Put your pride aside: Don’t challenge an aggressive driver or try to hold your own lane.
-Avoid eye contact: Making eye contact can actually enrage an aggressive driver.
-Ignore gestures: And refuse to return them.
-Report aggressive drivers: Pull over to a safe location and notify law enforcement.
If you have been involved in a Massachusetts car accident, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.