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Spotting — and Dealing with — Aggressive Drivers

Aggressive drivers are a major danger on the road. They are distracting and take driver attention from the road. They also tend to speed and drive aggressively when enraged, sometimes causing car accidents that result in fatalities or serious personal injuries. In the worse cases, aggressive drivers assault other drivers or even use their vehicles as a weapon, causing car and pedestrian accidents.

According to the NHTSA, aggressive drivers are usually higher risk drivers. Research suggests that they may take out their anger on just about anyone and may not need to be provoked to fly into a rage. Aggressive drivers usually feel safe acting out while driving, some experts have suggested, because cars offer a degree of anonymity and safety. Researchers have found that aggressive drivers tend not to consider or be concerned about the drivers around them and for this reason they take risks when driving. Aggressive drivers tend to tailgate, speed, run traffic lights and stop signs, pass on the right, make unsafe lane changes, weave in and out of lanes, yell, flash their lights, make facial and hand gestures, and honk aggressively.

If you notice a driver behaving in this way, you may be able to avoid an accident and avoid the personal injuries such an accident may cause. Here are some of NHTSA’s tips for dealing with an aggressive driver:

1) Do not allow an aggressive driver to affect your own driving. Try to remain calm and never speed up to keep up with a speeding driver. Continue to drive calmly, ignoring the aggressive driver as much as you can. Follow the rules of the road, especially if the aggressive driver is not. Make sure your seat belt is fastened, as this will help prevent a brain injury or spinal cord injury in the event of a collision. Prepare for defensive driving to avoid a collision.

2) Try to get out of the aggressive driver’s way. Drop back, take a different route and generally attempt to stay out of the way.

3) Take note of the aggressive driver’s details. Note mentally what he or she looks like and try to remember the license plate number or the make of the car. If you have a passenger with you, have your passenger write down this information. If the aggressive driver attempts to harm you or ram your car with his or her vehicle, you will have the information you need to report him or her.

4) Do not engage an aggressive driver. Never return gestures, honk, or yell at an aggressive driver. Experts even recommend avoiding eye contact. Any sign of aggression on your part can enrage an aggressive driver further and could make you a target.