One person’s bad driving habits are often another’s justification for endangering the lives of everybody else on the road.
Have you witnessed drivers doing any of the following?
- Driving faster than the speed limit
- Ignoring traffic lights, stop signs or yield signs
- Tailgating or following too closely behind another vehicle
- Passing on the shoulder or the break-down lane
- Changing lanes without a turn signal
- Flashing headlights at another motorist
- Making rude or obscene gestures
- Changing lanes erratically
- Yelling at another driver
- Deliberately blocking another vehicle
- Physically assaulting another driver
Have you been responsible for any of those acts yourself?
When you consider the statistics, it’s no surprise how many incidents there are on Colorado roads. A recent survey found 50% of drivers confronted with aggressive driving respond with road rage. Here’s the breakdown of how the surveyed drivers actually admitted to behaving:
- 34% honk their car horn at an aggressive driver
- 27% yell at the driver
- 19% make an obscene gesture
- 17% flash their car headlights
- 7% make the same aggressive driving maneuver
- 2% attempt to run the aggressive driver off the road.
These kinds of driving habits can be precursors some major road rage. Scary, isn’t it?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving occurs “when individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Aggressive driving can be attributed to drivers’ carelessness or inattention.
Road rage, though, can turn into a criminal offense. It’s considered by the NHTSA as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”
Coloradans have seen the criminal result of road rage as recently as April of this year. Colorado Springs cyclists and a driver in Pueblo made headlines after becoming road rage victims in the same month.
Clearly, road rage is an inappropriate response to a situation on the road, and it leads to additional incidents like car accidents, personal injuries or worse. In 1997, DRIVE SMART Colorado Springs began progressive action against aggressive driving, and the following year, the Colorado State Patrol instituted a free aggressive driving hotline. Concerned drivers are encouraged to file complaints about dangerous drivers by dialing *277 from a mobile phone.
Remember though, even with added driver education programs and close police monitoring of Colorado roads, highways are becoming more and more congested every year. That ramps up drivers’ stress levels all along the Front Range and down to Trinidad and out to Lamar.
When you’re behind the wheel, make a conscious effort to drive with the right mindset. Stay calm and avoid causing a car accident or becoming the victim of a car accident by focusing on the task of driving instead of retaliation. Learn more ways to stop aggressive driving with tips from the NHTSA.