Having to share the road with aggressive drivers can make an already tedious and stressful commute even worse. Unfortunately, according to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving is a common problem that's a contributing factor in as many as two-thirds of all traffic accidents that involve fatalities. That's a frightening statistic—particularly when you consider that aggressive drivers can be anyone, anywhere. Learning to spot dangerous, aggressive driving behaviors can help you protect yourself on the road. However, all the wise preventative measures in the world can't help those who have already been injured in accidents caused by aggressive drivers. If you or a loved one were injured in such an accident, it's important to understand and explore your legal options. You may be entitled to pursue compensation for medical bills related to injuries sustained in the accident, property damage to your vehicle, pain, and suffering, and even lost wages if your injuries prevent you from working.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as “a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Even without the official definition, aggressive drivers are fairly easy to spot, since they usually make no attempt to hide their unpleasant and hostile behavior on the road. While aggressive driving behaviors can vary dramatically, common examples of aggressive driving include:
- Running red lights
- Frequent and unnecessary lane changes
- Failure to signal
- Failure to yield
- Racing other drivers
- Cutting off other drivers
- Boxing in other vehicles
- Tailgating, or slowing suddenly to discourage tailgating
- Employing intimidation methods, such as obscene gestures or taunts
Aggressive driving behaviors aren't just unpleasant. They pose a serious danger to everyone on the road by creating an atmosphere of incivility that increases the likelihood of serious accidents. According to research published by University of Hawaii professors Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl, aggressive driving behaviors result in accidents that kill between two and four times as many people as drunk driving—a startling statistic that every motorist should know.
Who Is Most Likely to Drive Aggressively?
Situational factors, such as traffic congestion or running late for an important appointment can contribute to aggressive driving, and almost anyone can be subject to such factors. However, research suggests that some people are more likely to drive aggressively—and engage in this dangerous behavior on a regular basis—than others. For example, white men under the age of 30 account for the single largest group of aggressive drivers. Other factors that may influence aggressive driving include antisocial or competitive personality traits, such as:
- Poor problem-solving skills
- Unrealistic estimation of risk
- Overestimation of one's driving abilities
Aggressive Driving Prevention
Today there are more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the country coordinating efforts to prevent aggressive driving, according to information from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Smooth Operator program. Law enforcement agencies use a number of tactics to discourage aggressive driving, including:
- Increased education – Campaigns that raise public awareness of the dangers surrounding aggressive driving may make drivers think twice before engaging in these dangerous and destructive behaviors on the road.
- Vigorous enforcement – Programs like Smooth Operator, which increases the presence of law enforcement on the road during peak driving times, may discourage aggressive driving. Additionally, the vigorous enforcement of driving laws and the imposition of harsh penalties for those who violate said laws are other ways that federal agencies hope to curb the problem of aggressive driving.
- Additional research – A number of state and federal agencies conduct regular research into driving behaviors in an attempt to better understand potential problems and allow for the development of solutions.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by another driver's aggressive behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced injury attorney can help you understand your legal options and how best to proceed. Contact the knowledgeable legal team with Packard Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case, or to request a free copy of the book, 20 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Car Wreck Case. We've handled numerous cases just like yours and are dedicated to helping you obtain any compensation you may deserve.