AAA: Motorists Urged to Keep Cool this Holiday Season

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Nearly 80% of drivers expressed anger, aggression or road range behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to data gathered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Speeding tops the list, with men being the biggest culprit, though women are not far behind. With everyday stress already compounded by the pandemic and now the holiday season, which can elevate tensions on the road, AAA East Central urges motorists to keep their cool and avoid dangerous driving habits.

“While it may not feel like it in the moment, aggressive driving habits like speeding, running red lights, and cutting others off can be deadly,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “Taking steps like leaving early, being patient and kind, and obeying traffic laws will go a long way towards keeping you and your family safe.”

Aggressive Driving Behaviors among Male and Female U.S. Drivers, 2019:

 MaleFemale
Drove 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway52.0%44.6%
Followed the vehicle in front closely to prevent another

vehicle from merging

37.8%29.3%
Made rude gesture/honked at another driver35.4%28%
Drove through a red light32.2%30.0%
Drove aggressively by switching lanes quickly and/or very close behind another car31.5%21.4%

 

AAA Rules of the Road:
Contrary to common perception, speeding does not save time on the road. The average amount saved on a 5-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph posted road, is only 1.9 minutes. AAA encourages motorists to slow down and follow these important rules:

  • 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.

A driver may be stressed or react wrongly to another driver’s action on any given day, and the holidays can add to the strain and anxiety. Introduce the pressures and concerns tied to a global pandemic, and even the calmest, most safety-conscious drivers can find themselves frustrated by other motorists. If you encounter an aggressive driver on the road or find your temper rising, remember to slow yourself down, breathe deeply, and safely create distance between you and other motorists.

AAA offers these tips to help drivers manage aggressive driving scenarios:  

  • 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.