It takes everyone’s effort and cooperation to keep traffic flowing safely and smoothly. As a safe driver, you know this means keeping to the posted speed limit, yielding to other drivers’ rights-of-way, and maintaining a safe following distance.
Despite all these efforts, you may still encounter an aggressive driver on the road. It does not matter whether you are stuck near an aggressive driver for several miles or encounter them only briefly—any time spent near a reckless motorist can be terrifying.
Aggressive drivers are more likely to cause a car accident than those who are carefully following the rules of the road. Let’s look at what makes aggressive drivers so dangerous, as well as some of the most common contributing factors they engage in that cause crashes.
What Does Aggressive Driving Look Like?
If you’ve spent any time at all on Austin roads, you’ve probably already encountered your fair share of aggressive drivers. This means that you might already be familiar with some of the most common examples of aggressive driving behaviors:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Refusing to yield right of way
- Yelling at other drivers
- Making rude gestures
- Brake checking
- Aggressive honking
Being the target of such behaviors is truly terrifying. As the target of an aggressive driver, you might not even be aware of whatever perceived slight kicked off this behavior. It is important to note that even if you accidentally cut off another person in traffic or forgot to use your blinker, it does not justify another driver’s aggressive or reckless behavior.
Why Do Some Drivers Act Aggressively?
This is not to say that aggressive drivers act this way for no reason. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiled several reasons why drivers act aggressively behind the wheel. These factors include:
Running late. Drivers who are late for things like work, school, or doctor’s appointments are more likely to speed, cut other drivers off, and generally act aggressively while driving.
Too much to do. NHTSA points to the stressors of modern-day life as a factor here, especially for mothers. The average mom spends around an hour behind the wheel every day, completing five trips or errands while driving a total of approximately 29 miles. Frequent driving obligations like this tend to contribute to acts of aggressive driving.
Traffic delays. No one likes being stuck in traffic. However, some drivers treat things like highway maintenance, rush hour, or other issues that slow down traffic as personal affronts to themselves. Any kind of delay can be enough to spark rage for some people, even simply waiting for a traffic light to change color or for another driver to back out of a parking spot.
Anonymity. Few things make people feel quite so bold as anonymity. When someone feels like their behavior is mostly private and not subject to others’ direct judgment, they may act differently than they would in other situations. Someone who is seemingly polite, kind, and patient may transform into an entirely different person behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. A sense of anonymity encourages some people to engage in rude, dangerous, and reckless behaviors. Driving behavior is not inherently private though, although it does involve a unique blend of both private and public behavior. This means that while the inside of your vehicle might be your private space, the actions you take while driving affect the public.
Types of Aggressive Driving Accidents
Speed-related accidents are some of the most common collisions associated with aggressive driving. This is because speeding is one of the top aggressive driving behaviors you will encounter when operating your vehicle throughout Texas. In 2018 alone, nearly 8,600 speeding drivers caused fatal car accidents nationwide.
Rear-end collisions are also common. These are often the result of an aggressive driver following much too close to a leading vehicle, and then not stopping in time to avoid a collision. They may also result from an aggressive driver brake-checking (suddenly slamming on the brakes without warning) right in from of another vehicle.
How to Safely Get Away From an Aggressive Driver
Now that you know the signs of an aggressive driver and the dangers they pose, you need to be sure you also know how to safely get away from them.
In the best-case scenario, an aggressive driver will pass you by unharmed, and you can go on about your day as normal. If you are the target of an aggressive driver, you might not be so lucky. Here are some actions you can take to help you safely navigate this situation:
- Avoid eye contact with the aggressive driver.
- Do not respond to any rude gestures.
- Gradually reduce your speed to help create distance between your vehicles.
- Change lanes if it is safe and possible to do so.
- If you are on the interstate, take a nearby exit.
- Drive to the closest police station if you cannot safely get away from the aggressive driver.
You might be tempted to speed up, ignore traffic lights, or blow through stop signs in an attempt to get away from an aggressive driver. Do not engage in these behaviors, as they increase your chances of causing an accident.
If you are having trouble staying calm while you’re trying to get away, turn off your music and ask any passengers to remain silent so that you can focus on driving safely for the time being.
Buckingham & Vega Law Firm Is Here To Help
No matter how much time or attention you give to your recovery, your life will never be the same after an aggressive driving accident. On top of dealing with things like medical bills, car damages, and lost income from not being able to work, you might also struggle to get back behind the wheel. Emotional trauma associated with these types of accidents can be profound and long-lasting.
At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, we know you need help to put your life back together after an accident. Going up against the insurance company to get what you deserve is a challenge we are prepared to meet. When you get in touch for your free consultation, one of our compassionate car accident lawyers will make sure you understand all of your legal options.