At one time or another, we've all gotten impatient while behind the wheel. How motorists react to that feeling of impatience, however, could directly impact their auto accident risks. Safety experts report that aggressive driving is a national epidemic: in fact, aggressive driving maneuvers - made by drivers of commercial trucks and of smaller vehicles - are a common contributing factor in many Missouri trucking accidents. That's why the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) have targeted aggressive driving in a continuing effort to reduce these preventable accidents
Aggressive drivers in Missouri
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." Most people don't stop and think about how dangerous aggressive driving is. With that in mind, consider the following questions about aggressive driving.
Are you an aggressive driver? A few warning signs
- Anger or frustration: Do you express your anger or frustration to other motorists?
- Failure to pay attention: Do you read, eat, drink, talk on the phone, or text instead of focusing on safe driving techniques?
- Tailgating: Do you obey the 3-second rule? Tailgating is one of the most dangerous aggressive driving habits and is a leading cause of accidents involving large trucks.
- Frequent lane changes: Do you get frustrated or impatient and weave in and out of traffic lanes, trying to get ahead? If you whip in and out of lanes, you pose a large danger to yourself and other motorists. Sudden, frequent lane changes are another leading cause of auto accidents: when done with or around a commercial truck, the danger is greatly increased.
- Running red lights: Do you think you can make it? Do you tell yourself everybody else does it? Are you running behind schedule and can't wait another minute? Stop on a yellow/amber light. Anticipate light changes ahead of time so you can slow down and stop. Many truck accidents occur in intersections.
- Speeding: Do you drive faster than the posted speed limit? Are you trying to race other motorists or driving faster than conditions allow? Are you so frustrated you just have to "get past this traffic"? Vehicle speed is a major factor in truck accident severity and a common contributor in vehicle rollovers.
How to combat "road rage":
To avoid aggressive driving practices, you should plan ahead and be able to recognize the warning signs.
- Allow yourself extra time. Leave early and plan your route so you don't feel the pressure of the clock.
- Concentrate. Focus on the responsibility of driving, and be aware of the vehicles you're sharing the road with. Don't allow yourself to be distracted - by the phone, the radio, your dinner, or anything else that takes your attention away from the road.
- Relax. If you find yourself becoming anxious, frustrated or angry, turn your radio on to soothing music, or pull over and take a stretch brake, if time allows.
- Drive the speed limit. Don't try to keep up with faster vehicles.
- Identify alternate routes. Stay abreast of traffic information for your planned route. Check into alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion, just in case.
- Just be late. Sometimes there is no alternative. It is better arrive late than to be involved in a crash. Safety should be your top priority.