Statistics show that most accidents are caused by the driver being distracted. A distraction can come in many forms when behind the wheel of your car, one of them is anger. Being human people get angry and being angry in your car is just one more distraction you do not need. It could cause you to make some rash decisions. Avoiding a driver behaving aggressively is also a major distraction that could cause actions putting you and the drivers around you in a serious situation.
Aggressive driving is defined as: “A form of automobile operation in which an operator will deliberately behave in such a manner as to increase the risk of an automobile accident” (Wikipedia). Aggressive driving includes behaviors such as speeding, running red lights, frequent or sudden lane changes, following too close, flipping off the other driver, and just general stupidity.
A driver acting aggressively becomes not only a danger to themselves and the driver who is the target of their anger but everyone around them. Aggressive behavior and distractions lead to mistakes and accidents. Incidents of aggressive driving can also quickly escalate in to “Road Rage” which usually leads to physical violence. According to statics aggressive driving is a key factor in 56% of crashes with fatalities. Insurance payouts to claimants of accidents caused by others bad behavior, especially uninsured drivers is passed on through insurance policy rates.
More than costly, Aggressive Driving is dangerous and could lead to much more serious charges, such as manslaughter or murder. Eleven states have passed laws that address aggressive driving behavior. Interestingly enough, Florida is prohibited from enforcing their aggressive driving law by state statute.
In Florida to be considered driving in an aggressive manor you must be ticketed for at least two of the following: speeding, unsafe or improper lane changes, following too closely, failure to yield right of way, improper passing, failure to obey traffic control devices. I tried to find exactly what Florida state statute prevents Florida from enforcing their aggressive driving law but without luck. I did learn that there is a check box on the traffic citation indicating it was Aggressive Driving. If an officer should write a ticket for one of the qualifying traffic offences he can check the box but it would be for data collection only.
As always the best defense is not to get in a situation in the first place, there are steps you can take to
Avoid being the target of an aggressive driver and they can be summed up as: Don’t offend, Don’t engage, and Adjust.
Don’t offend, avoid cutting someone off, don’t tailgate, don’t make a gesture, stay off the horn and if you do…. apologize!
Don’t engage, steer clear if you see a situation starting to develop. If you are being followed pull in to a safe or crowded spot and ask for help or dial 911. Don’t react back, avoid eye contact, avoid anything that would cause the aggressor to take a next step. If you see a driver who is acting dangerously report it, you may save a life.
Adjust, again simple things like leaving enough time to get where you are going. You won’t have to speed, you won’t have to tailgate to push people out of your way. Defuse, if someone should cross your path, take that deep breath or count to ten.
Aggressive driving bad behavior behind the wheel affects us all by putting us in danger. And we pay for it through increased auto insurance rates. Driving is hard enough but it is really nothing to get angry about.