Aggressive driving is widespread on local roads and highways both in Connecticut and across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner which endangers, or is likely to endanger, persons or property.

The problem of aggressive driving appears to contribute to collisions, injuries and fatalities on
Connecticut roads. Those who drive aggressively create an unsafe environment as they try to make up time or get ahead of others on the road. In their aggressive state of mind, drivers may not be thinking about the people that occupy the vehicles around them.

There is a distinct difference between aggressive driving and road rage.
Road rage is defined by the NHTSA as an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or vehicles precipitated by an incident which occurred on a roadway. Road rage is a criminal offense while aggressive driving is a traffic offense.

Signs of an aggressive driver

  • Changes lanes frequently, abruptly or unnecessarily.
  • Distracted by cell phone conversation, eating, music, etc.
  • Uses high beams to push a driver aside.
  • Speeds and tailgates.
  • Rushes yellow lights, runs red lights.
  • Expresses frustration while driving.
  • Uses obscene hand gestures.

To reduce aggressive driving

  • Concentrate on driving. Do not become distracted by talking on your cell phone, eating, drinking or personal hygiene.
  • Drive the posted speed limit.
  • Plan your trip and identify alternate, less congested routes.
  • Leave ample travel time and anticipate delays.
  • Use public transportation to give yourself a break from driving.
  • On longer trips, never remain behind the wheel for more than three hours without a break.
  • Read highway warning and construction signs. Listen to the radio for alternate routes, accidents and traffic delays.
  • Reduce tension by increasing ventilation in the car and listening to calming music.

To avoid aggressive drivers

  • Get out of the way.
  • Put your pride aside. Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold your own in your travel lane.
  • Avoid eye contact, which can sometimes enrage an aggressive driver.
  • Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
  • Report serious aggressive driving. If possible, obtain a marker plate number and contact police as soon as possible.

Advice For Motorists

  • Motorists who might respond to provocation from an aggressive driver should think about the realities of the threat.
  • At least 1,500 men, women and children are seriously injured or killed each year in the United States as a result of senseless traffic disputes and altercations.
  • ANYONE can be an aggressive driver! People have been maimed and murdered other motorists during traffic disputes. These people have been young, old male and female, rich, poor, well dressed and poorly dressed. Do not underestimate the potential for violence in any driver.
  • Without exaggeration, millions of motorists are armed with firearms, knives, clubs and other weapons. Remember that every driver on the highway is armed with a weapon more dangerous and deadly than a firearm — A Motor Vehicle!