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Page Law’s $1,000 2017 Scholarship Essay Contest

2017 Winner Ben Bergman

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving plays a role in 66% of traffic fatalities. What are examples of aggressive driving and how can you avoid being the victim of an aggressive driver?

By Ben Bergman
June 30, 2017

The cardinal watchword when driving is to remain ever vigilant and to drive defensively. That’s because it’s impossible to anticipate how dangerous other people’s driving can be. Moreover, it’s always a wise policy to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”. Thus it is incumbent on all drivers to remain observant and perspicacious to perceive possible threats and anticipate dangers on the road, including the likely possibility that other drivers may, at any time, endanger others on the road, both other motorists and pedestrians.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Aggressive driving is usually the result of a driver’s self-absorption combined with an intense sense of urgency. That risky combination compels the most common manifestations of vehicular irresponsibility, which usually take the form of speeding and reckless driving, characterized by moves such as making U-turns with no visibility to oncoming traffic. Aggressive drivers tend to speed and tailgate, and they often ignore signals and violate other traffic laws.

Other conditions that induce aggressive driving include inebriation, fatigue, and the relatively novel phenomenon of specifically road-related rage (i.e. “road rage”). Each of these have their own respective symptoms, from following improperly, making erratic lane changes, allowing inadequate room when passing others, weaving through traffic, failure to obey traffic signs or signal lane shifts and turns, making inappropriate turns and violating other procedural norms.

The Fatal Accident Report System (FARS) found that excessive speed was the primary factor affecting fatal car accidents precipitated by aggressive driving. That finding implies one useful way to both combat the thread and impact of aggressive drivers, while moreover setting a constructive example by always honoring the speed limit and honoring the most common driving mores, such as only passing to the left of other cars. Maintaining consistency and always signaling well in advance of making any changes to one’s speed, direction or trajectory represent a culture of driving practice that one can adhere to rigorously to ensure optimal protection from those aggressive drivers and their hazardous impact.

This essentially represents clear communication with others, in the automobile modality, and this kind of transparency is fundamental to negotiating any encounters with others in a productive and effective manner. By avoiding any altercations in the car, one can thereby preclude any risk of any potential conflicts escalating – especially those inspired by road rage, or overly aggressive tailgating, either of which can become a threat to one’s person regardless of driving.

While it is impossible to eliminate any risk of traffic accidents completely, by knowing these crucial and seminal indicators of aggressive driving, one can considerably reduce the likelihood of suffering a dangerous – let alone fatal – encounter, and thereby protect not only themselves but even others as well, by leading by example and by reinforcing safe and prudent practices on the road.

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