The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports approximately 200,000 traffic accidents result in injury each year, and nearly 4,000 result in at least one fatality. Unsafe speed, improper turning, failure to yield the right of way, and obey traffic signals are the most frequent examples of aggressive driving. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates more than half of all traffic fatalities in the United States may be caused by aggressive driving.

What your employees need to know about aggressive driving

Longer commutes, traffic congestion, and other drivers’ behaviors are often to blame. It can also be caused by a driver’s mood, reactions, and ability to deal with stress on and off the road. Such drivers are more likely to speed, make unsafe lane changes, ignore the right of way, and violate traffic signals. Aggressive driving behavior includes tailgating, unsafe passing, honking your horn, making rude gestures, or swearing at other drivers.

Don’t confuse aggressive driving with road rage. Blaring your horn in traffic or making rude gestures are not illegal, but they can escalate and lead to road rage. Road rage is a criminal act where a driver tries to intentionally injure or kill another driver, passenger, or pedestrian.

What your employees need to do to prevent aggressive driving

Start by adjusting your approach. Forget the idea of “winning” on the road. Driving is not a race; it should not be a contest to see who finishes first. Leave plenty of time for a trip so that if traffic or another delay occurs, you can keep your cool. Think of the highway as a conveyor belt – everyone will get to their destination eventually, so there is no need to speed or act impolite to save a few minutes.

Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes. Have you ever made a mistake on the road, been lost, or unsure of your turn-off point? Instead of being angry at another driver making the same mistakes, give them the benefit of the doubt. When you make mistakes, acknowledge them and give the drivers around you a friendly nod or wave. Polite behavior makes driving safer.

Don’t engage aggressive drivers. Avoid eye contact and do not make (or return) rude gestures or comments. Give an angry driver a lot of room by putting distance between them and you. Slow down or exit the roadway if necessary, but do not pull off to the side of the road or try to “reason” with an angry driver. Get help by using your cell phone or driving to a public area such as a police station or shopping center.

What to cover at your safety meeting on aggressive driving

Discuss the importance of keeping cool when on the road. Remind employees that aggressive driving can lead to accidents and potentially to injuries. Other topics you can discuss include:

  • How to identify aggressive drivers
  • How to steer clear of aggressive drivers
  • How a person’s mood can impact the way they drive
  • How planning in advance for heavy traffic can help your drivers minimize the risk of driving aggressively

When it comes to driving, there will always be bad actors that want to break the rules. Ignore rude and bad drivers on the road, keep your cool, and arrive at your destination safely.

For more safe driving information, see Transportation.