This week, a Florida man received national media attention when his aggressive driving caused him to lose control and crash his truck - and the whole incident was captured on video. According to the Tampa Bay Times, 33 year-old Jeffrey White was tailgating another vehicle, driven by Tracy Sloan, in the minutes leading up to the accident. White then passed Sloan, flashed an obscene gesture at her, and attempted to cut in front of her vehicle. Instead, his truck spun across several lanes of traffic and smashed into a light pole. White left the scene, but as a result of the video, authorities located and arrested him two days after the incident. He is charged with leaving the scene of an accident, careless driving and failing to wear a seatbelt - and the video of the incident has been viewed over one million times on YouTube.
Luckily, no one was injured in this crash, but as personal injury lawyers, we know that aggressive drivers pose a serious threat to everyone on the road, including themselves. In this post, we discuss the problem of aggressive driving and share a few strategies to keep in mind, just in case you find yourself traveling near one of these dangerous drivers.
What is aggressive driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits a combination of moving offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." Aggressive driving often involves dangerous driving behaviors like speeding, making quick lane changes, failing to yield, tailgating and running stoplights or stop signs. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, nearly 90% of drivers nationwide believe that aggressive drivers pose a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" threat to their personal safety.
It's important to note that there's a difference between aggressive driving and what's commonly known as "road rage." While the term aggressive driving tends to refer to a series of traffic violations, road rage is a criminal offense defined 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." Both behaviors, however, can lead to serious auto accidents.
What should I do if I encounter an aggressive driver?
• Get yourself out of harm's way. If you find yourself traveling near an aggressive driver, the best way to protect yourself is to get out of that driver's path. After all, as the recent Florida incident demonstrates, aggressive driving behaviors can easily trigger a crash.
• Don't try to confront or challenge the driver. Aggressive drivers can be extremely frustrating, but it's essential that you keep your own emotions in check to safeguard yourself and your passengers. Speeding up or tailgating will likely further enrage an aggressive driver, making the situation even more dangerous. Also, importantly, avoid making eye contact, ignore obscene gestures, and refuse to return them.
• Call 911 (or better yet, have a passenger call) if an aggressive driver is threatening your safety. Doing so might just save someone's life.