On the road, there is no shortage of reasons to feel frustrated and rushed. From personal feelings to traffic conditions, many factors affect a driver’s mood behind the wheel. While most of us are able to overcome these obstacles and arrive at our destination safely, many times the emotions of other drivers spill over into aggressive driving behaviors. Aggressive driving puts everyone on the road at risk, and the behaviors and signs are more common than you might think. Here, we discuss aggressive driving in Delaware and what to do help keep yourself and your loved ones safe on the road.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as “a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” The state of Delaware has specific laws regarding aggressive driving, which are different from the charge of reckless driving. The state explains aggressive driving as occurring when a vehicle operator continually violates three or more of the following traffic laws:
- Obedience to traffic control devices
- Obedience to traffic control signals
- Overtaking on the right side
- Driving within one’s own lane
- Following too closely
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failure to properly merge
- Failure to use turn signals
- Failure to obey stop and yield signs
In addition to the Delaware rules, experts also include the following behaviors as signs of aggressive driving:
- Driving slowly in the passing lane
- Making improper turns
- Changing lanes erratically
- Honking the horn
A driver who is found to have been driving aggressively in Delaware can be punished with fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. Additionally, he or she could be required to complete a safety course before legally returning to the road.
Aggressive Driving Does Cause Serious Accidents
While many of the behaviors listed above are common, they can cause serious accidents. Most drivers are guilty of speeding or disobeying traffic signs at some point without suffering any negative consequences, but drivers should understand that these are in fact risky behaviors. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving behaviors play a role in more than half of all fatal traffic crashes. Speeding is the leading aggressive behavior related to fatal crashes, with the NHTSA reporting that speeding was responsible for 9,262 deaths (or 28 percent of fatal crashes) in 2014. In Delaware, 121 people were killed that same year in speed-related crashes.
The Unique Dangers of Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving presents many unique dangers to everyone on the road. Perhaps the most troubling fact is that while most people agree that aggressive driving is a problem, those same drivers often engage in aggressive behavior themselves. Aggressive driving also tends to lead to a chain reaction, with one instance leading to others. AAA reports that one driver’s poor behavior often causes an escalating response from other drivers, leading quickly to a serious driving risk as more vehicles are operated in a dangerous manner. In extreme cases, aggressive driving can lead to road rage incidents.
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones From Aggressive Drivers
If you find yourself sharing the road with an aggressive driver, there are steps you can take to diffuse the situation and help keep everyone safe. AAA suggests:
- Leave a lot of room. Try to simply steer clear of these drivers. Put distance between your vehicles so you can go your separate ways. Continuing to drive in close proximity may antagonize the other driver further and escalate the situation.
- Don’t make eye contact. Avoiding eye contact keeps the situation more impersonal, which makes it easier to move on from the incident.
- Call the authorities. If you feel like you can’t control the situation or that it is getting out of hand, call the police. If you are unable to make a phone call, pull over in a public place where you can honk or otherwise signal for help. Do not get out of your car, and do not drive to your home.
While many drivers excuse or downplay many aggressive driving behaviors, they can be extremely dangerous on the road. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident with an aggressive driver, you may be entitled to make a claim. Fill out our online contact form, and you’ll receive a prompt response from the experienced lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group to learn more about your rights and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.