February is Aggressive Driving Awareness Month. It’s a good time to ask yourself if you have some of the traits of an aggressive driver. If so, you may be one of the many drivers responsible for accidents, injuries and lawsuits each year.
What Is an Aggressive Driver?
An aggressive driver is one who uses his vehicle as an outlet for frustration, with little or no concern for the safety of other drivers on the road. The aggressive driver in most cases – out of rage – wants to harm others and uses his vehicle for this purpose. These drivers are asking for an accident to happen, with behaviors like:
- Running red lights
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Shouting or gesturing at other drivers
- Passing on the right
- Following too closely behind other cars
- Fail to signal lane changes
If any of these traits sound like you, you may be an aggressive driver.
Why Are Drivers Aggressive?
Our high-stress, fast-paced lives are one of the major reasons for aggressive driving. Other causes of the phenomenon are:
- Unending traffic and delays
- Bad condition of roads
- Bad weather
- Other aggressive drivers. Aggressive driving is a communicable disease
- Immaturity. Young men make up the largest population of aggressive drivers
What Can You Do?
Learn to identify the symptoms of aggressive driving and work to eliminate them. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a car accident or in need of a lawyer. Here are a few simple measures you can take to reduce aggression when driving:
- Plan ahead. Leave yourself extra time to get to your destination.
- Control your breathing to control your anger. A simple technique to reduce stress is breathing using the 4-4-4 rule. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds and then exhale through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat this several times to reduce your body’s stress level.
- Listen to music. Sometimes changing your mood is as simple as a flip of the dial. Turn off the news and turn on some music. It is hard to be angry while listening to classical music or Brazilian bossa nova.
- Get absorbed in a book – on CD. Turn a traffic jam to your advantage by keeping books on CD in your car to listen to when you are stuck in traffic. You may find you are sorry to find the congestion dispersing.
- Call a friend. Find a friend or two who can help you commit to changing your behavior. When you start to feel angry on the road use your phone to talk to them.
Millions of accidents occur every year in the US, and many of them happen because of aggressive drivers. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Federal government estimates that if stopping aggressive driving could save as many as 2,000 lives a year.