More than half of deadly car accidents potentially involve one or more unsafe driving behaviors typically associated with aggressive driving, according to a 2009 update on aggressive driving provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
When many drivers think of aggressive drivers, they likely think of crazed guys shaking their fist (or at least a finger or two) while weaving in and out of traffic. But the Chicago car accident lawyers and personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes want you to take a moment and think about aggressive driving habits you may have adopted without even realizing it.
Ever speed? Do you sometimes hit the gas a bit to make it through a yellow light? Is diving for an open parking space your thing? Take a moment. Take a breath. And ask yourself, what is it really worth?
In AAA Foundation’s 2008 Traffic Safety Culture Index, 78 percent of respondents rated aggressive drivers as a serious or extremely serious traffic safety problem — yet nearly half admitted to exceeding the speed limit by 15 mph on a major highway in the last month!
Substantial numbers also admitted to speeding up to beat a traffic light, honking at other drivers, and tailgating other drivers in an attempt to get them to speed up.
Nationally, at least 1,500 men, women and children are seriously injured or killed as a result of traffic disputes or altercations each year.
Another AAA survey of 526 motorists found almost 90 percent had experienced “road rage” incidents during the last year. Aggressive tailgating (62 percent) was the most common, followed by headlight flashing (59 percent), obscene gestures (48 percent), deliberately obstructing other vehicles (21 percent) and verbal abuse (16 percent).
Gender differences were not as great as expected. Just over half of women admitted to aggressive driving behavior compared to about two-thirds of men.
Nationally, an increasing number of studies are sounding alarms. As a nation, only two percent say drivers are getting better, while 62 percent, or about two of every three motorists, say things have gotten worse on our roads.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration counts the following behavior as forms of aggressive driving:
-Improper or erratic lane changing
-Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch, or on sidewalk of median
-Passing where prohibited or where there is insufficient visibility or distance
-Suddenly changing speeds
-Failure to yield right of way
-Failure to obey traffic signs, devices, safety zones or other traffic laws
-Failure to observe warning instructions on vehicles displaying them
-Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
The federal government offers drivers the following tips:
-Concentrate: Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by talking on the phone, reading, drinking, eating or applying makeup.
-Relax: Fewer crashes occur when vehicles are traveling at similar speeds.
-Identify alternative routes: Even if it looks longer on paper, you may find it is less congested, more relaxing or just a change of scenery.
-Consider public transportation: It can give you a break from life behind the wheel.
-Just be late: If all else fails …
When confronted with aggressive driving:
-Get out of the way
-Put your pride aside: Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold your own
-Avoid eye contact: It can sometimes enrage an aggressive driver
-Gestures: Ignore them and refuse to return them
-Report serious aggressive driving: You or a passenger may call the police. If you use a cell phone, pull into a safe location.
Aggressive driving can be a serious crime. It can be dangerous. And it is a liability. If someone causes an accident by driving aggressively, they can be criminally charged and they can certainly be held accountable in civil court for the injuries, pain and suffering and damage they cause to innocent motorists.
If you or someone you love has been in a Chicago car accident, the attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. call toll free (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.