As a driver, you may have heard different things about aggressive driving. What is aggressive driving and how do you avoid it? We’ll answer these questions and discuss the main types of aggressive driving.

What Is Aggressive Driving?

Aggressive driving is any behind-the-wheel behavior that puts other people or someone’s property in danger. Aggressive driving is a willful action with no regard for safety. There are different types of aggressive driving, such as the following:

  • Tailgating
  • Cutting in front of another driver, then decreasing the speed
  • Running red lights
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Switching lanes without using the proper signal

Why Is Aggressive Driving Dangerous?

Aggressive driving is dangerous because it poses a tremendous safety risk to drivers and others on the road. Let’s look at other reasons aggressive driving is dangerous.

Increased Risk of Accidents

Speeding, tailgating, and other aggressive driving behaviors dramatically increase the likelihood of auto accidents. Drivers who engage in these aggressive behaviors have less time to react to unexpected situations, which leads to collisions.

Reduced Vehicle Control

Individuals who drive aggressively often make sudden lane changes and exhibit hard braking. These abrupt maneuvers can reduce their control of the vehicle, making it more difficult to avoid auto accidents.

Increased Severity of Injuries

Accidents that occur due to aggressive driving often involve severe injuries. High speeds and sudden impact are two factors that lead to severe injuries in aggressive driving situations.

Economic Impact

Aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding, can lead to expensive accidents. The cost of an accident involves more than the cost of repairing a damaged vehicle. Other factors, including medical expenses and legal fees, contribute to the cost of an accident caused by aggressive driving.

Environmental Impact

When you think of aggressive driving, you may not consider the environmental impact this type of driving has, such as fuel consumption. Aggressive driving burns more fuel than non-aggressive driving, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and putting a strain on the environment.

What Impact Does Aggressive Driving Have On Others?

Driving aggressively endangers the life of the driver and other individuals on the road, as well as innocent bystanders and pedestrians. Anyone traveling near or around an aggressive driver is in danger.

Identifying the 3 Main Types of Aggressive Driving Behaviours

The 3 types of aggressive driving behaviors are speeding, tailgating, and weaving in and out of traffic. There are other aggressive driving behaviors, but these 3 occur the most often.

1.    Speeding

Speeding occurs when a driver exceeds the posted speed limit or drives too fast for current road conditions or weather, such as heavy rain, snow, or ice.

Why is Speeding Dangerous?

Over the last 20 years, speeding has been the cause of approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2022, speeding was a primary factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities.

Speeding can also occur when you’re traveling at the speed limit, but too fast for the current weather or road conditions. For instance, if the speed limit is 60 mph, but it’s raining heavily, you need to decrease your speed because rain makes roads slick, and traveling at 60 mph is too fast for these road conditions.

Speeding is dangerous because it endangers the lives of everyone on the road, including the driver and any passengers. Speeding can result in serious injuries and even fatal injuries.

How to Avoid Speeding

Avoiding speeding is about being mindful while you’re driving. Pay attention to road signs, such as speeding limits and traffic signs. You should also check your speedometer often to ensure you remain within the set speed limit. If you’re taking a long trip, such as a road trip, use cruise control when appropriate.

2.    Tailgating

Tailgating happens when one driver follows another vehicle too closely, which can lead to rear-end collisions.

Why is Tailgating Dangerous?

Tailgating is a dangerous driving behavior because it increases your risk of being involved in an auto accident and reduces the time you have to react to changing road conditions or driver’s maneuvers. This type of aggressive driving can also impair visibility for the tailgater in the vehicle in front of them.

How to Stop Tailgating

Use the 3-Second Rule

To stop tailgating, always follow the 3-second rule. The 3-second rule states you should have 3 seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. To use the 3-second rule, use an object in front of you, such as a posted speed limit, and count to three thousand, such as one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.

When the vehicle in front of you passes the posted speed limit, start counting until you reach one-thousand-three. The goal is to reach the posted speed limit by the time you count to one-thousand-three. If you pass the speed limit sign before the end of the count, this is an indication that you are driving too fast or following too closely to the vehicle in front of you.

Be Patient

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or not, you should always remain calm and be patient. A lot of things can happen when you’re on the road, and one of the best things you can do is be patient, especially if you’re traveling at the posted speed limit. Don’t try to intimidate other drivers into speeding up if you’re in a rush or frustrated. Stay calm and relax.

Change Lanes

If another driver is tailgating you, change lanes and allow them to pass you. While tailgating may be aggravating and frustrate you, you should never hard brake. Hard braking can result in a rear-end auto accident, leaving you with a damaged vehicle and costly repairs.

3.    Weaving In and Out of Traffic

When you’re weaving in and out of traffic, you’re frequently changing lanes without using the proper signals and considering other drivers.

Why Is Weaving In and Out of Traffic Dangerous?

Switching from one traffic lane to the next without proper signaling can result in multiple accidents. As a driver, it’s important to be as predictable as possible so other drivers know what you’re planning on doing, such as switching lanes, so they can make sure they have enough time to appropriately react.

If you’re switching in and out of traffic lanes and other drivers don’t know what you’re planning on doing, they don’t have time to react accordingly, which can cause drivers to panic and cause an accident.

How to Stop Weaving In and Out of Traffic

Plan Ahead

To stop weaving in and out of traffic, you need to give yourself enough time to reach your destination, which may mean leaving home or work earlier. Rushing is a common reason drivers engage in aggressive driving.

Travel In One Lane

If you need to switch lanes, feel free to do so, but make sure you are using the appropriate turn signal to let other drivers know that you are switching lanes. If possible, stay in one lane. Weaving in and out of traffic lanes frustrates other drivers and increases the risk of an auto accident.

Use the Appropriate Turn Signals

Using the proper turn signals when you’re changing lanes lets other drivers know that you’re trying to switch lanes. In most instances, the driver in the other lane must make space for you to switch lanes. If you don’t use the appropriate turn signal, you aren’t communicating with other drivers, and they won’t know how to react to the actions you’re taking.

Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Ensure you’re maintaining a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. There should be at least 3 seconds of space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Maintaining a safe following distance ensures other drivers have enough time to react, such as slow or stop, to accommodate you.

Be Patient

Getting stuck in traffic or behind a slower-moving vehicle, such as a school bus can be frustrating, but engaging in aggressive driving behaviors isn’t the answer. Remain calm, make sure you’re following all traffic rules, and avoid engaging in driving behavior that will put you and other drivers at risk of being involved in an auto accident.

How Often Do Drivers Engage in Aggressive Driving Behavior?

The AAA Foundation’s Annual Traffic Safety Culture Index states millions of drivers engage in aggressive driving behaviors. 30 days before this survey was performed, 57 million drivers stated they drove aggressively by switching lanes too quickly or tailgated another vehicle.

Over 70 million drivers say they made rude gestures or honked their horns at other drivers. More than 105 million drivers have driven at least 15 mph over the speed limit while traveling on the highway.

A whopping 68 million drivers admitted to driving through a red light while more than 48 million drivers stated they passed in front of a vehicle without enough space to do so, which is known as cutting off another driver.

Have you ever sped up to prevent another vehicle from merging into the traffic lane you’re in? If so, you’re part of the 55 million drivers who have done this. If you’ve tailgated the vehicle in front of you to prevent a driver from merging into your lane, 75 million drivers say they have done the same.

Looking at the numbers and statistics, we see that many drivers engage in aggressive driving behavior. No one is a perfect driver, whether you engage in aggressive driving behavior or not. The bottom line in this situation is to follow all traffic rules, laws, and regulations, and avoid engaging in aggressive driving behaviors. Stay safe out there and happy driving!