Aggressive driving might seem like a natural response when a driver cuts you off, but plenty of recent news stories or studies have tied the behavior to traffic fatalities. Fatal shootings due to aggressive driving in Las Vegas, Omaha, and New Orleans are just a few examples of when a road rage incident gets out of hand. An amplifying factor in these incidents is that more drivers are carrying guns with them. One AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Research project found that nearly 80 percent of drivers admitted to having an aggressive driving incident within the past year.
Aggressive driving incidents are classified as situations such as deliberately cutting someone off, tailgating, or intentionally blocking the path of a car. While this might just lead to two angry drivers rolling down the window and yelling, it doesn’t always end there. That same study showed that 4 percent of drivers in those incidents got out of their car to confront the other driver. This poses serious risks for everyone involved, since it’s hard to know the emotional state and propensity for anger in another person until it’s too late.
One of the most common situations in which aggressive driving can manifest is in the wake of a vehicle accident. Getting out of the car in what you hope to be a calm situation could turn deadly if the other driver blames you or is irrational. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aggressive driving is far too often linked to traffic fatalities. The numbers of road rage incidents that ended with at least one death have been on the rise for the past ten years.
Part of the problem is that some of the triggers for road rage and aggressive driving are popping up more often. Consider that the average American commuter drives 42 hours more than in 1982, and the traffic congestion and behavior of others on the road can be the tipping point for someone prone to aggression and anger in the first place.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, don’t be afraid to contact authorities and to stay in your vehicle until they arrive, if necessary. It can be challenging to figure out what to do when an aggressive driver crosses the line, but trust your intuition and remain calm whenever possible.