Tips to avoid aggressive driving, road rage

IRVING, Texas – With warmer temperatures, congested roads and the busy summer travel season in full swing, AAA Texas is reminding drivers about ways to avoid aggressive driving and road rage.  

Aggressive driving is intentional, dangerous behavior that jeopardizes the safety of motorists and pedestrians.  

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According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving is a serious problem on our nation's roads and highways and a factor in up to 56 percent of fatal crashes.  

Road rage is less common than aggressive driving but far more dangerous. Road rage is deliberate, uncontrolled anger that leads to violence or the threat of violence on the roads. 

Aggressive driving and road rage are unpredictable, can be ignited quickly and can occur at any time. In addition, numerous studies indicate that all motorists are capable of acting out our anger when behind the wheel, no matter our age, gender or how considerate we might be in other circumstances.  

While aggressive driving is dangerous and often violates traffic laws, road rage is a crime. Consequences can include suspension or even revocation of your driver's license.

"All too often, driving becomes a contest for many people," said Doug Shupe of AAA Texas. "By changing your approach to driving and allowing more time for your trip, you'll make your road travel safer and more pleasant."

Avoiding Road Rage

When motorists were surveyed, they consistently identified the following situations as ones that would anger and provoke them.  AAA Texas reminds drivers to steer clear of these types of situations:

Cutting people off. When you merge into traffic, use your turn signal, and make sure you have plenty of room to enter traffic without cutting someone off.  If you accidentally do cut someone off, try to apologize with an appropriate gesture, such as a hand wave.  If someone cuts you off, take the high road:  Slow down and give them plenty of room.

Driving slowly in the left lane. Even if you're driving the speed limit, if you're in the left lane and someone wants to pass, be courteous -- move over and let them pass so you don't anger drivers behind you.  The left lane is actually intended as a passing-only lane; otherwise, you're expected to move to the right.  

Tailgating. Drivers can really get angry when another car follows them too closely, so allow adequate room between you and the car in front of you. Follow the two-second rule:  Note when the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark. It should take you at least two seconds to reach the same point.  If you're being tailgated, put on your turn signal and pull over to allow the vehicle to pass.

Making obscene or provocative gestures.  Almost nothing makes other drivers angrier than an obscene hand gesture.  Even shaking your head may anger some drivers.  So be cautious and courteous -- signal every time you merge or change lanes, as well as when you turn.

Honking your horn.  Your horn is intended for use in an emergency only.  Don't honk at someone who's driving slower than you want them to or who doesn't move quickly enough from a traffic light.  It can make them angry and potentially cause an accident if other drivers try to figure out who is honking and don't pay attention to their driving.

Aggressive Drivers -- Do's and Don'ts

If you encounter an aggressive driver, AAA Texas suggests you follow these guidelines:

Don't engage in their aggressive behavior. Prevent a potential incident or crash by refusing to play into their anger.

If another driver tries to pick a fight, steer clear and give them lots of room.

Do not, under any circumstances, pull off to the side of the road and try to settle things face to face.

If an angry motorist tries to get your attention, avoid making eye contact. Engaging with him or her could turn an impersonal encounter into a duel.

If you think another driver is following you or trying to pick a fight, call the police on your cellphone.

Drive to a place where there are lots of people, such as a police or fire station, a convenience store, or a shopping center, etc. This will often discourage the would-be aggressor from following you.

Don't get out of your car.

Don't go home until you're sure the aggressor is gone and it's safe.

Adjust Your Attitude

Make your trip safer by allowing extra time to get to your destination and by listening to relaxing music or books on tape.

Put yourself in the other driver's frame of mind. Try to imagine why they're driving aggressively; they may have a personal emergency or be an undercover police officer, a doctor, or a fireman responding to an emergency. Whatever the reason, it has nothing to do with you personally. Stay cool and let other drivers deal with their own issues.

Finally, if you find yourself constantly angry in traffic, consider seeking professional help or counseling. Courses in anger management may help you from becoming an angry, overly aggressive driver. Self-help books on stress reduction and anger management can also be helpful.

To find out more about aggressive driving, go to, where you can take a quiz to find out whether or not you're a calm driver.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services.  Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

Source: AAA Texas

About the Author

David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.

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