How to avoid Aggressive or Dangerous Drivers

Driving aggressively can be triggered by a variety of stimuli. Some drivers maybe provoked by the actions of other drivers, some are set off by road conditions particularly congestion. By far, most acts of aggression are caused by the driver's own frame of mind.

Research has shown that most habitual aggressors' are in an argumentative and antagonistic state of mind before they get behind the wheel of their car. Some induce this state of mind the moment they get in the car; others psyche them themselves up for the inevitable confrontation that lies ahead. They see their car journey as a dual between themselves and other drivers' who they believe ought not to be on the road in the first place.

Be aware of actions that can provoke aggression

Most of us at some time have had a bad day at work. You're not feeling quite yourself when you meet some stupid driver on your commute home. This state of mind is perfect for driver aggression and nearly every one of us has at some time encountered it.  For example; you're stuck in a traffic jam with nowhere to go when some imbecile thinks he's clever by driving down the hard shoulder and cuts in, right in front of you. You flash him to show him you're not happy, but the injustice you feel fills you with indignant rage, after all you have patiently queued in line for ten minutes, how dare this brainless idiot do this to you?

Further along the road, you meet him again at the traffic lights and as he accelerates away he sticks two fingers up at you; payback for flashing him. You see red as you chase after him, this time you're going show him who is the better driver. As you catch up with him you're so enraged that you want him to feel like you do, to taste your anger; someone is going to have to teach him a lesson, so it might as well be you.

Psychologists refer to this driver stress experience as a heightened state of anxiety which can cause a fight or flight-reaction in some motorists.  Regardless of the provocation, anger behind the wheel is unhealthy; it is dangerous and can lead to acts of violence!

Psychologists have compiled the following list that they believe can be triggering points for aggression while driving.

  • Tailgating. (following too close behind the car in front)
  • Unsafe lane changes. (undertaking, weaving in and out of lanes)
  • Slow Driving including driving too slow in the fast lane or under the speed limit.
  • Flashing Headlights. (because your annoyed)
  • Blasting the horn. (as above)
  • Unnecessary or overuse of your brakes.
  • Failure to give way.
  • Failure to indicate or signal.
  • Deliberate obstruction. (blocking the passing or incoming lane)
  • Cutting off the other driver.
  • Excessive speed.
  • Ignoring Stop signs at road junctions
  • Jumping traffic lights.
  • Parking thoughtlessly.
  • Obscene gestures. (these can really irritate other motorists)
  • Illegally using a Mobile Phone.

The list is endless and can only get longer if you react unfavourably or take misdemeanours or mistakes by other drivers PERSONALLY!

General Advice

If you encounter an aggressive driver, do not overreact; Put your pride in the back seat. Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own with them. Do not endanger yourself by trying to evade the driver, do not gesture or retaliate in anyway, avoid eye contact (an angry look can increase the other drivers' aggression). If you have passengers in your car, do not let them interfere.

If the driver is in front of your car slow down and let them go on their way. If the driver is behind you, do not brake suddenly, signal left and let them pass you, on no-account stop your car to get out, you are much safer in your locked car.

If the driver continues to harass or follows you, do not go home (no point telling an aggressive person where you live) drive to the nearest police station or a public place such as a shopping centre (usually they have security guards). Park within eyesight and earshot of other people. Under no circumstances should you get out of your vehicle, if you have a mobile phone, call 999 and tell the police that you have been involved in an aggressive driving incident, if you do not have a mobile phone use your car horn to attract help.

Support police efforts to rid the streets of this menace. If the aggressive driver is involved in a crash or incident further down the road, stop a safe distance from the scene, wait for the police to arrive and report the dangerous and aggressive driving behaviour that you witnessed.

How to avoid Aggressive or Dangerous Drivers Tips and Advice Article No25

RoadDriver 2010

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