While some people consider road rage and aggressive driving to be the same thing, true incidents of road rage are criminal offenses, not traffic offenses. Aggressive driving could be considered a precursor to road rage, but it is definitely a milder form of bad driving. Both road rage and aggressive driving greatly increase the chances of a serious car accident. They are an unacceptable and, by many accounts, increasingly frequent sight on New Jersey roadways. A recent study conducted by the Plymouth Rock Management Company shows just how common this problem is.
According to the study, 35 percent of New Jersey drivers have reported experiencing “uncontrollable anger” while driving. More than 10 percent reported actually witnessing physical altercations between drivers. The numbers for careless or aggressive behaviors such as speeding, changing lanes without signaling, and using insulting hand gestures were much higher. Nearly 50 percent of New Jersey expressed concern over their safety on the roads.
Aggressive driving is a behavior that many people can easily diagnose in others, but fail to see in themselves. When someone else drives in a manner that is illegal or that you deem inappropriate, a common response is to get angry and make the problem worse. When someone cuts you off without signaling while talking on a cell phone, the correct response is not to tailgate, gesture violently and go faster to get ahead of them. That might be a natural response, but it isn’t a safe response. Distracted drivers and seemingly clueless drivers are not going to become safe drivers because you tailgated them or stared them down. It is out of your control to make them better drivers.
The best response to other people’s bad driving is to stay calm and do your best to get where you are going safely. Staying calm is not easy for everyone. Like many things, it is easier if you practice and prepare. Before you start your car in the morning, acknowledge to yourself that you are likely to encounter poor driving during your trip. Remember that your goal is to get where you are going safely. Plan, in advance, to maintain calm even in the face of inconsiderate or clueless drivers. Anger serves no purpose behind the wheel and can quickly lead you into trouble.
Source: Insurance Journal, “Plymouth Rock Releases Study on New Jersey Road Rage” 24 September 2014