If you are a mad, mad, mad, mad driver, you are not alone. When it comes to vehicular seething, it seems too many Americans are engaged in road-based gladiatorial combat.
"Road rage was a hot topic about ten years ago but it still rears its ugly head," says Fran Mayko of the Automobile Association of America (AAA). Although she says the media address road rage only sporadically, drivers continue to drive aggressively. This kind of behavior manifests itself and dangerous ways, she says, from altercations to fatal traffic accidents.
On its website, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that speeding – perhaps the most obvious form of aggressive driving – accounts for about one-third of all of fatal car crashes in the U.S. Running through traffic signals, also aggressive behavior, is among the most common causes of accidents in metropolitan areas.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) conducted a nationwide survey to examine speeding and other unsafe driving actions construed as aggressive. The survey's goal was to determine driver attitudes about aggressive actions, the characteristics of unsafe drivers and possible countermeasures. Here's what the study revealed:
Age and gender are important factors in unsafe driving;
Men are more likely than women to engage in unsafe driving behavior;
Younger drivers are more likely to commit unsafe driving actions than older drivers;
Drugs are found to be associated with one quarter of incidents;
Unsafe driving declines as age increases.
The study also highlighted common conditions that might make road rage more likely. Among them, road rage incidents are more common during Friday afternoon peak travel times, between 6 - 8 a.m. and 4 - 6 p.m. They are also more likely to occur in sunny weather, under moderately congested conditions and in urban areas.
NHTSA has the following suggestions for drivers confronted by road rage or aggressive driving:
Make every attempt to get out of the way of an aggressive driver.
Do not challenge aggressive drivers by speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
Avoid eye contact, which can enrage an aggressive driver.
Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
Report serious aggressive driving. You or a passenger should call the police. But, if you're the caller and you're driving, pull over to a safe location before making the call.
For more information about road rage and how to avoid being affected by it, go to www.aaafoundation.org.