It may come as little surprise that aggressive driving is a factor in many serious or life-threatening crashes. Aggressive driving increases the risk of a crash because it puts the aggressive driver and others in dangerous situations.
While there is no foolproof way to avoid all aggressive drivers, there are strategies for lowering your risk of a crash with an aggressive driver. Below, we discuss what to do if you encounter an aggressive driver, and how you can avoid responding aggressively.
If you react aggressively, you could be found partially at fault for a crash, which could reduce the value of your claim for compensation.
If you were injured in a crash, contact Schmidt Kramer’s Harrisburg vehicle accident lawyers today to discuss potential legal options. We offer a free legal consultation and do not charge up front for our services. Our firm has secured more than $100 million in compensation on behalf of our clients.
Stay Calm and be Patient with Other Drivers
It is important not to take the actions of other drivers personally. They do not know you. It is highly unlikely they are driving dangerously just to make you angry. They may be stressed out from their job, an interpersonal relationship or something else that is going on in their lives.
It is important to plan and give yourself enough time to reach your destination. People often become angry when they are in a hurry, and they encounter traffic. If you give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going, there is probably no need to get upset.
Try to avoid doing things that may make other drivers angry. For example, avoid cutting people off and do not tailgate other vehicles. Use your turn signals and pay attention to help avoid the need to slam on the brakes to avoid a crash. Make sure to stay in your lane and avoid distractions. Sometimes drivers get mad when they see other motorists texting or otherwise distracted.
It is usually best to avoid using your horn unless you absolutely need to. There are few things that anger drivers more than when someone honks at them, even if honking may have been justified.
Do Your Best to Move Away from Aggressive Drivers
If another driver cuts you off, tailgates you or does something else aggressive, stay calm and take action to keep yourself safe. For example, change lanes or slow down to get away from this person.
Try your best to not make eye contact with an aggressive driver. Eye contact could cause them to become even angrier.
You do not want to provoke an aggressive driver. Your focus needs to be on de-escalation on getting away from these people.
If you are being followed closely, change lanes so this person can get past. He or she may continue to be angry, but at least his or her anger may be directed at others and not you.
In the unlikely event an aggressive driver starts following you, head to the nearest police station. Make sure your doors are locked. If you are stopped at a light and this person gets out of his or her car to confront you, do not make eye contact. Stay in your vehicle and continue to the police station. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
Sometimes simply acknowledging that you made a mistake can help defuse the situation. Maybe the other driver will still be angry, but the situation will not escalate because you let the other driver know that you know you messed up. A friendly wave could be enough to prevent the situation from getting worse.
Be Considerate of Other Drivers
Many drivers get very angry when they are on a highway or interstate in the far-left lane and they encounter another car driving very slowly. If you are in the left lane and you notice a lot of cars passing you or a line of cars behind you, you are probably going to slow. It is best to move into the right lane.
Keep your eyes on the road and on traffic lights that are about to change. Drivers can get very angry when they are stuck at a green light because someone is not paying attention and does not realize the light has changed.
Report Aggressive Drivers to the Authorities
Reporting an aggressive driver could help prevent a crash and resulting injuries. If you see someone driving erratically and putting other vehicle occupants in danger, try to get a good look at the driver and his or her vehicle. Pull over and take notes on what you say, including:
- Make and model of the vehicle
- License plate number
- Color of the vehicle
- Description of the driver
- Anything unique about the vehicle, such as damage, bumper stickers, vanity plates, or aftermarket modifications
How Common is Aggressive Driving in the U.S.?
Millions of drivers engage in aggressive driving, defined as driving behavior done deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.
The AAA Foundation conducts an annual survey of driving behaviors and they have found that millions of drivers admitted to aggressive behavior in the past month, including:
- 57 million changed lanes very close to other cars
- 71 million made rude gestures and honked at other drivers
- 68 million drove through a red light
- 75 million followed other vehicles too closely to prevent another vehicle from merging
- 106 million drove 15 miles per hour above the speed limit on a freeway
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When a crash occurs, victims need sound legal advice on what to do to protect their claim for compensation. While compensation cannot change what happened, we understand how important it is for victims to recover compensation as they look to move forward.
We understand you may be concerned about costs, but Schmidt Kramer works on contingency. That means there are no upfront fees or legal obligations.
Give us a call today to learn more about how we may be able to assist you. We are prepared to manage the entire legal process on your behalf.
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