Aggressive driving: Stop it, don’t start it

February is Aggressive Driving Awareness Month. AAA South Dakota urges drivers to work to improve the kindness shown on our roadways.

AAA South Dakota spokesperson Marilyn Buskohl says being on the receiving end of aggressive driving can be scary. She says aggressive driving goes beyond honking the horn and gesturing. It includes all unsafe driving behavior, performed deliberately with disregard for safety.

Aggressive driving behaviors include:

  • Speeding in heavy traffic
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down
  • Running red lights
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
  • Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers

To avoid aggressive driving situations AAA advises managing your behavior and your responses. Often aggressive actions occur because drivers are rushed, distracted or upset about things unrelated to you or their driving.

AAA recommends following these important rules of the road:

  • Maintain adequate following distance.
  • Use turn signals.
  • Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
  • Allow others to merge.
  • Turn off high beams when there is oncoming traffic.
  • Tap your horn if you must (but no long blasts or hand gestures).
  • Be considerate in parking lots, parking in one spot, not across multiple spaces. Be careful not to hit the car next to you with your door.
  • Avoid eye contact with angry drivers
  • Don’t respond to aggression with aggression.
  • If you are confronted stay as calm and courteous as possible.
  • If you feel threatened, call 911.

The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index found 91.5 percent of all drivers say people driving aggressively pose a threat to their personal safety and 68 percent of drivers perceive aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than it was three years ago.

Also revealed in the Index:

  • 42.7% admitted to driving through a stoplight that has just turned red when they could have stopped safely in the past 30 days, despite most drivers (92.9%) viewing it as an unacceptable behavior.
  • 50.3% reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway and 47.6% reported driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street.
  • Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year.