From 2003 to 2007, close to half of all deadly car accidents involved at least one driver who did something aggressive behind the wheel in the moments before the crash, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Aggressive driving is very common - and very dangerous. Motorists need to know how to avoid engaging in aggressive behavior, and must also take steps to try to protect themselves from becoming the victims.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a survey of motorists and asked them about their behavior over the prior year while driving. Around 80 percent of the survey respondents said that they had expressed "significant" anger or road rage while operating their vehicles.
Although it is natural to get frustrated by what other drivers do around you, letting your anger rise to a level where it is "significant" or where you are feeling "rage" is not OK because when you are this emotional, you could do something dangerous that causes a crash to happen. Further, research has shown that drivers who are in an emotionally-charged state may be just as dangerous as those who have knocked back a few drinks.
To avoid letting yourself get to the point where your anger affects your safe driving abilities, AAA has some tips to help you stay calmer as you drive. AAA suggests that you practice tolerance and remind yourself that other motorists may simply be having a bad day. AAA also advises against engaging with other drivers who may be trying to egg you on or who may be expressing frustration at you. Keep focused only on what you are doing behind the wheel, and don't let the actions of others control you. If you feel in danger, drive to a public place or call 911 for help. If you are feeling mad, try taking deep breaths and counting to 10.
Even if you are frustrated, be sure to continue to behave responsibly by using turn signals, avoiding tailgating, and using your high beams responsibly. AAA also cautions limiting the use of your horn, and only tapping it if you must use it.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association also has tips to avoid becoming a victim of an aggressive driver. RMIIA advises against tailgating, cutting off other drivers, making gestures while driving, or driving too slowly in the left lane. Leaving plenty of room around angry drivers is also highly recommended, as is avoiding eye contact which can escalate the conflict by setting the stage for confrontation. You are responsible only for what you are doing and should try to avoid interacting with an aggressive driver and getting safely out of their way so you will be out of the path of harm.
If everyone follows the rules of the road, there will be less reason for motorists to get frustrated with each other and there will be far fewer incidents in which aggressive or road rage cause accidents to happen.