Don’t offend. Don’t engage. Adjust your attitude.
These are the three principles AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says you should follow to help ensure you avoid being the victim of an aggressive driver – or be viewed as one.
The foundation offered the principles after finding in a recent survey that Americans believe aggressive driving is a “major concern … and a real threat to the safety of all road users” and that nine out of 10 respondents think aggressive drivers are at least “somewhat” of a threat to their personal safety.
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In the survey, many drivers admitted to behaving aggressively or exhibiting road rage, “having let their anger and frustration get the best of them at least once in the past year, [and] engaging in behaviors such as yelling, honking, gesturing at, or purposefully tailgating another driver.”
The same study found that about 7.5 million drivers had gotten out of their vehicles to confront another driver and nearly six million had bumped or rammed another vehicle on purpose.
Several behaviors seem especially likely to enrage other drivers, according to the study:
- Getting cut off.
- Driving slowly in the left lane.
“Be a cautious and courteous driver. Signal every time you merge or change lanes, and whenever you turn. Use your horn rarely, if ever,” said AAA Foundation. “And if another driver seems eager to get in front of you, say ‘be my guest.’ When you respond this way … [it] becomes your automatic response and you won’t be offended by other drivers’ rudeness.”
The foundation recommends the following behaviors if (when) you encounter an aggressive driver:
- Steer clear.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Get help.
“You can protect yourself against aggressive drivers by refusing to become angry at them. … When angry, a person can do things they may later regret,” says AAA. “Think about what kind of crash your angry actions could cause. Then cool down and continue your trip.”
Adjust your attitude
AAA offers several ideas for a “pleasant” change:
- Forget winning – it’s not a contest.
- Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes instead of judging him/her.
- If you think you have an anger management problem, ask for help.
“The most important actions you can take to avoid aggressive driving take place inside your head,” says AAA. “By changing your approach to driving, you can make every trip more pleasant.”
Now that you’ve finished our four-part series #RoadRage in America and you’re an expert on the subject, be sure to take your knowledge on the road with you.
And be careful out there.