There are two kinds of drivers out on the road: Passive Drivers, and Aggressive Drivers. One group is filled with smooth, tranquil motorists, and the other is a festering hotbed of spite and fury. Which group do you belong to?
Why Aggressive Driving Is Increasing
When you’re driving down a road, you’re part of a group—a community of motorists. And as a part of a community, you’re obligated to behave in ways that are good for everyone. This can be a difficult concept to remember—after all, in a car, you’re pretty much isolated from the rest of the world. Because of this, some drivers have a tendency to react selfishly, focusing on what’s good for them, rather than what’s good for everyone on the road.
Over the last 30 years, the number of motorists on the road has increased dramatically. According to the National Safety Council, the total number of miles driven in the United States has increased by 38 percent. People are spending more and more time in their cars, and that leads to more and more traffic. More traffic leads to driver irritation, and driver irritation leads to bad—and dangerous—decisions.
Reduce Your Own Aggressive Driving Tendencies
Nobody wants to be the victim of road rage. Nobody wants to become a perpetrator of it, either. And the best way to lower the amount of aggressive drivers on the road is to not be one yourself. When in the car, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you get frustrated in traffic, plan ahead by leaving time for potential delays so you won’t be late. Stay focused on your own driving. Your horn is there to warn others of danger, not voice your opinion regarding other people’s driving abilities.
Doing these things may not seem like much, but it will have a snowball effect on the road. If you don’t speed, you won’t annoy the guy that you would have zipped past. If you don’t cut people off, they won’t feel obligated to cut others off in return. Your safe driving habits affect everyone on the road, like ripples moving across a pond.
How to Avoid Danger
If you encounter an angry person on the sidewalk, there might be an opportunity to listen to them rant, or help them with their problem, or even just give them a hug. But in a car, there’s no opportunity to help. The best thing to do if you do happen to encounter an aggressive driver is keep calm and carry on.
Don’t do anything to engage or retaliate, either. You never know what they might do. Avoid making eye contact with them, and give them as much room as you think they need. If someone is cutting you off, let them. It’s never worth the risk to “teach them a lesson” or otherwise get your own point across. Chances are they won’t listen, and it certainly won’t make them a more passive driver. In fact, just the opposite—it makes you an aggressive driver, and that’s exactly what you set out to avoid.
There are dozens of factors that determine what kind of driver you are on any given day. Your mood, your focus, even the kind of car you’re driving can make you lean one way or another. But the one thing that doesn’t change is how to stay safe, and by adopting good defensive driving skills, you’re making the road safer for everyone.