Road rage hurts innocent motorists

Aggressive driving, as defined by the Transportation Research Board, involves "operating a motor vehicle in a selfish, pushy or impatient manner, often unsafely, that directly affects other drivers."
One of the ways aggressive drivers can directly affect others who share the road is by increasing the likelihood of car accidents. More accidents mean more injuries and damages -- and, ultimately, higher auto insurance premiums. In the 2008 AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index Survey, nearly four of five respondents rated aggressive drivers as a "serious" or "extremely serious" safety problem.
Could you be an aggressive driver? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following actions are particularly dangerous:
  • Failure to yield the right of way, observe warning signs, obey traffic signals and signal lane changes.
  • Racing and speeding.
  • Passing with insufficient distance or bad visibility.
  • Driving illegally on a ditch or road shoulder.
  • Erratically changing lanes or making improper turns.
  • Following too closely.
At least one aggressive driving behavior was involved in nearly half of all traffic deaths tracked by NHTSA 's Fatality Analysis Reporting System between 2003 and 2007. Speeding was the most common aggressive action, causing roughly one-third of the traffic deaths analyzed
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 14 states had addressed aggressive driving through resolutions and aggressive driving laws as of January 2011. In Utah, for example, reckless driving -- defined as "willful and wanton disregard for safety of persons or property" -- is illegal. California has amended its laws to make it easier for aggressive drivers and motorists who engage in things like "speed contests" to be cited and punished.
How can you curb your own road rage and simultaneously avoid other aggressive drivers?
Avoiding frustration at the wheel can be surprisingly difficult, particularly if you are tired, distracted or stressed. NHTSA advises drivers to:
  • Concentrate on the road.
  • Relax behind the wheel.
  • Drive the posted speed limit.
  • Identify alternative routes.
  • Use public transportation.
"If all else fails," the NHTSA guide suggests, "just be late."
If you encounter an aggressive driver, the NHTSA suggests the following:
  • First and foremost, get out of the way.
  • Don't get into speeding contests or try to make the aggressive driver even angrier by escalating a war of gestures.
  • Report serious aggressive driving to the police.

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