Aggressive driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the United States and, like any state, Delaware has its fair share of aggressive drivers. According to statistics reported by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS), 116 people died and an additional more than 10,300 people were injured in aggressive driving-related crashes in the state between 2015 and 2017.
Aggressive driving accidents can leave victims seriously injured, temporarily or permanently unable to work, and facing significant unplanned medical expenses. Learning to recognize aggressive driving—both in oneself and others—and developing defensive strategies to combat it can help motorists stay safer on the road while those who have already been injured in aggressive driving crashes may be entitled to compensation for damages.
Recognizing Aggressive Driving
In a 2016 study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers reported expressing aggression, anger, or rage while driving at least once in the past 12 months. So, even if drivers are not familiar with the concept of aggressive driving, they are usually able to recognize it in action on the road.
Speeding is the most common—and deadliest—aggressive driving behavior, accounting for approximately 27 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, speeding killed 10,111 people in 2016 alone. Other common aggressive driving behaviors include:
- Making unsafe lane changes
- Following too closely, also known as tailgating
- Ignoring traffic control devices or signage
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Refusing to stop for a law enforcement officer
- Failing to use turn signals
- Passing on a shoulder
- Overtaking a stopped school bus
- Taunting other drivers
- Making rude or intimidating gestures
- Racing other vehicles
Delaware law defines aggressive driving as a series of three or more Title 21 traffic infractions committed in a single incident. Drivers who violate the law can face up to 30 days in jail and fines of up to $300. Additionally, drivers convicted of an aggressive driving violation must complete a behavior modification class or attitudinal-driving course within 90 days of their conviction. Non-compliant motorists or repeat offenders may have their license suspended.
Factors That Contribute to Aggressive Driving Incidents
NHTSA research into the efficacy of anti-aggressive driving programs revealed a number of factors that contribute to aggressive driving incidents, including:
- Traffic delays
- Running late for work, school, or an appointment
- Anonymity of being one driver in a sea of many
- Disregard for the law
- Disregard for the safety of others
- Habitual or clinical behaviors, such as chronic anger or aggression
Additional research shows that male drivers age 19 and younger are most at risk for displaying dangerous aggressive driving behaviors.
Defensive Strategies for Dealing With Aggressive Drivers
- Make safety a priority. Don't engage in aggressive driving behaviors, stay focused and avoid distractions, don't follow other vehicles too closely, always keep the doors locked, and wear a seat belt.
- Swallow your pride. Don't attempt to challenge or engage aggressive drivers, and never return rude gestures. Get out of their way as soon—and as safely—as possible.
- Report aggressive drivers to the authorities. Call 911 to report aggressive drivers as soon as possible. Provide a location of the vehicle, direction of travel, license plate number, and a thorough description that includes the make, model, color, size, and number of doors.
Do You Need an Experienced Car Accident Attorney?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by an aggressive driver, the Morris James Personal Injury Group's knowledgeable car accident attorneys can help you explore your legal options and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your car accident case.