If you’ve been on the road lately, it’s probably not surprising to learn that people are overly aggressive on the road.
I’ve been driving for nearly 40 years and people who’d been driving for 40 years before that said people had always been awful on the road.
I’ve always felt getting into a car does something to people. You can take the nicest person in the world, put them behind the wheel and soon they will be wishing a horrible death on another driver who doesn’t drive exactly the way they do.
I’ve read that we appear to consider whatever vehicle we drive to be our own personal little kingdom and woe be to anyone who offends the king/queen doing the driving. I can see that. We have to maintain a sense of decorum at every other place in the world, but when it’s just us in the car, why should we put up with the least little thing?
Another thing that might not surprise you is AAA (American Automobile Association), recently did a study and found that, hold onto your hat, men are more aggressive behind the wheel than women.
I know! But the gap between the genders isn’t really that great. AAA looked at five areas and the conclusion seems to be that we’re all pretty awful behind the wheel.
The first area they looked at was driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway/interstate. The speed on most such roadways is 70 mph. I drive on the interstate a lot nowadays and I keep it at 70 and I normally get passed like I’m sitting still. 70 mph seems like a low number.
They say 52% of men do this and 44.6% of women. I’d raise that number to about 95% for both genders.
The next thing was following a vehicle too closely in order to keep a third car from merging. Most people justify this because the moron trying to merge flew past everybody who had already merged and expects to be let in at the front of the line.
37.8% of men do this and 29.3% of women. I say that number needs to be 100%. Pay attention to what’s coming and get over!
Then there’s making a “rude” gesture or honking the horn at another driver. 35.4% of men and 28% of women. I do neither of these. I hate the sound of a horn and, once about a thousand years ago, I made a “rude” gesture at another driver and got chased down the road.
It was resolved easily when I pulled over and it turned out I was twice the size of the other driver. Not that I could have backed up being that size, I’m not a fighter, I’m a ... well, you know. Nowadays he’d probably just pull out a gun and shoot me.
Then there’s the ever popular driving through a red light. 32.2% of men and 30% of women flirt with this potential disaster. Most modern day red lights do keep all lights red for a couple of seconds to make sure everybody has come to a stop, but red light crashes can be vicious as people tend to speed up when they see yellow.
And they finished out with the ever popular aggressively changing lanes while tailgating people. This insidious practice is done by 31.5% of men but only 21.4% of women. Technically, this is reckless driving and can land you in jail. I know, if things had happened differently you’d be a NASCAR driver, but you’re not on a race track.
AAA is helpful and has some rules for being safe on the road. They are:
- Follow posted speed limits.
- Maintain an adequate following distance.
- Use turn signals.
- Allow others to merge.
- Use your high beams responsibly.
- Be considerate in parking lots — Park in one spot, not across multiple spaces. Be careful not to hit cars next to you with your door.
They also say:
- Don’t Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
- Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.
- Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle, and contact 9-1-1 if needed.
In other words, just mind your own business. Follow the rules and we’ll live to drive again.
Unless you own an oversized pickup truck. Apparently you have free license to drive however you wish if you have one of those.