Aggressive Driving – Part 1
Most people would likely not characterize themselves as aggressive drivers, but it is important to understand just what is meant by aggressive driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aggressive driving is when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property”. What this means is that by exceeding the speed limit while following too closely (tailgating), you are indeed driving aggressively. The California Department of Transportation estimates that two-thirds of all traffic fatalities may be caused by aggressive driving.
I want to share a few tips that will prevent you from becoming an aggressive driver. These will be fairly obvious to most, but I think it benefits everyone to deliberately think about these things and perhaps make some slight changes that will ultimately keep you and your property safe.
1. Give yourself more time. Leave your house 10 minutes earlier than you think you need to. If possible, change your schedule so that you avoid driving during hours of peak traffic. People who are running late will drive faster. Speeding is often the “starter drug” of aggressive driving. Speeding often leads to frequent or discourteous (no signal) lane changes, passing on the shoulder or unpaved portions of the road, or threatening remarks or gestures towards any vehicles that are in the way.
2. Do not drive when you are feeling angry or upset about something. Instead, alter your surroundings to make your car comfortable and relaxing – put on soothing music, adjust your seat so that you have relaxed but upright posture. Relax your knuckles and do not clench your teeth.
3. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Try to be gentle, polite and forgiving. Assume that everyone is having the worst day of their lives and just let their mistakes and poor judgement roll right off your back tires. Too often the right-of-way rules preempt basic social manners – don’t always expect that your right-of-way is an absolute right. You are better off waiting a few seconds for another driver rather than risking a collision. Knowing you were “in the right” will not make up for the pain, expense and hassle involved with an accident.
In Southern California, we see far too many drivers with poor attitudes and road rage. It is crucial to remember to keep your cool while driving in every situation. Never drive if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and always buckle your seat belt.
Here’s to improving your safe driving practices… Read the 2nd part of my Aggressive Driving series here.
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