Despite fewer people on the road, deaths from collisions increased by an estimated 8 percent in 2020, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council. As traffic dissipated, reckless driving became increasingly common across the country.
While you can’t control what other drivers are doing, defensive driving techniques can help reduce your risk of being involved in a collision. “Defensive driving is constantly identifying potential risky situations, and responding proactively to prevent trouble,” says William E. Van Tassel, manager of AAA Driver Training Programs.
Learn how to drive defensively and make conscious choices behind the wheel to reduce your risk and stay safer on the road.
Recognize and avoid unsafe drivers.
Speeding, tailgating, and running red lights are aggressive, unsafe habits, and all can be an indication of road rage. Unfortunately, this kind of reckless driving is extremely common in the U.S. Nearly 80 percent of drivers reported significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous 30 days according to a 2019 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
It can be dangerous to become the target of a driver with road rage. “The best approach is to avoid offending any driver,” says Van Tassel. “Never cause another driver [to] change their speed or steer around you.” You should also give aggressive drivers plenty of space and allow them to pass you as easily as possible.
If you are in a tense situation with an enraged driver, do not get out of your vehicle, and try to stay calm. Be polite, forgiving, and courteous. This may help you diffuse the situation without further aggressive action. If the situation cannot be diffused, Van Tassel recommends staying in your car on a well-lit, busy road so that any behavior can be witnessed.