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Addressing the Problem of Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving and road rage are related, but distinct problems. Aggressive driving is substantially more common and involves violations of traffic laws. Road rage is assault either using or related to a motor vehicle. The distinction is important because aggressive drivers may be able to convince themselves that they are not a problem because their behavior does not rise to the level of road rage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes that clear in its efforts to combat the problem of aggressive driving.

What Is Aggressive Driving?

If it isn't road rage, what exactly is aggressive driving? Aggressive driving takes various forms. Speeding is likely the most common form of aggressive driving. Far too many drivers behave as though highways are race tracks, fighting to pass other vehicles and not get passed. Improper lane changes are another form of aggressive driving. Drivers who weave between lanes, fail to signal and fail to account for other vehicles and proper spacing in making lane changes are behaving aggressively. Improper passing is another form of aggressive driving. Some drivers pass on the shoulder or emergency lanes in order to get ahead. Finally, tailgating is a common form of aggressive driving. Drivers who follow too closely often do so in order to intimidate other drivers who might be frustrating their ability to speed, weave and generally endanger other drivers.

Surveys show that the public supports stronger efforts to combat aggressive driving. Aggressive drivers are a nuisance, to themselves as well as to others. Speeding alone contributes to more than 30 percent of fatal car accidents, according to the NHTSA. Preventing or reducing aggressive driving would have a substantial impact on road safety nationwide. Greater enforcement of traffic laws is one way to combat aggressive driving.

Many people do not recognize that their actions are dangerous. The facts demonstrate that aggressive driving is a major contributor to car accidents. Regardless of an individual's driving skill, aggressive driving increases the likelihood of a crash. By educating the driving public of the dangerous nature of aggressive driving, it may be possible to improve traffic safety. This education component should start at the earliest levels of driving instruction. Parent should be mindful of the potential for harm in engaging in aggressive driving with their children in the vehicle. Even if you avoid an accident, your driving habits will undoubtedly play a role in influencing how your children drive when the time comes.

Finally, road technology can play a role in reducing aggressive driving. Congestion often gives rise to aggressive driving. While every driver is responsible for his or her own conduct behind the wheel, there is no doubt that an overburdened highway system contributes to aggressive driving. Efforts to reduce traffic congestion carry the potential to reduce aggressive driving accidents.

Source: NHTSA.gov, "Aggressive Driving Fact-Tip Sheet With Talking Points," 

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