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What Is Aggressive Driving?

Dark haired man with beard makes aggressive hand gestures while driving as a woman in the passenger's seat looks worried

You probably know aggressive driving behaviors when you see them, but defining the term can be a little nuanced at times. Aggressive driving is defined as a willful behind-the-wheel action that puts other people at risk with little to no regard for safety. On the mild side, aggressive driving can simply include risky behavior. On the more serious side, aggressive driving can escalate to significant violence.

Below, we detail some of the most common forms of aggressive driving, the laws that apply, and what you should do if you should encounter an aggressive driver on the roadways.

Aggressive Behaviors

Any unsafe driving behavior, whether it is performed deliberately or negligently without concern for the safety of others, can be considered aggressive driving. The following are some driving behaviors that can qualify as aggressive:

  • Tailgating
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Passing on the shoulder
  • Speeding
  • Cutting off traffic
  • Honking
  • Yelling
  • Flashing headlights
  • Using inappropriate gestures
  • Failing to obey stop signs or traffic lights
  • Sudden or erratic lane changes
  • Failing to signal turns or lane changes

The following are examples of very severe aggressive driving behaviors:

  • Bumping another vehicle
  • Ramming another vehicle
  • Brandishing weapons

People Likely to Drive Aggressively

Certain people are more likely to engage in aggressive driving behaviors than others. Most aggressive driving is carried out by men aged 18 to 26. However, female aggressive drivers are increasing. To that point, there has been a standard uptick in the number of women driving on roadways at higher risk times, like rush hour and during the night.

How Common Is Aggressive Driving?

Despite its dangers, aggressive driving is extremely common among U.S. drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that nearly 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous year. Previous studies have found that over half of fatal collisions involve at least one driver who engaged in some potentially aggressive action.

A 2018 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed the top five most common forms of aggressive driving behaviors for drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes:

  • Driving too fast or racing - 16.7%
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs - 10.1%
  • Failure to stay in a proper lane - 7.2%
  • Failure to yield - 7%
  • Driver distraction - 5.2%

Aggressive Driving is Illegal

It’s typical for aggressive drivers to be charged with the reckless driving statute, but if the behavior gets worse, there are several other safety citations and criminal charges that may be applicable.

While the state of Mississippi doesn’t have any explicit laws regarding aggressive driving, there are states that do. For instance, Douglas County, Colorado has enacted an ordinance that permits officers to double the fine of a traffic violation if the offense is determined to be an aggressive driving infraction.

What to Do If You Encounter an Aggressive Driver

It is never fun to be on the receiving end of an aggressive driver's rampage. Even if you may have done nothing wrong, the other driver may be so blinded by their rage (or sheer ignorance) that they will continue to take it out on you and do things behind the wheel that are illegal, inconsiderate, and dangerous. So what do you do in this situation?

  • Stay calm and relaxed. Do not respond to aggression with aggression.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Ignore them as best you can. Do not make eye contact, make gestures, or engage in any way.
  • Do your best to get out of the way safely.
  • If you feel you are at risk, pull over or drive to a public place such as a police station, fire station, or hospital.
  • If you are confronted, stay in your vehicle and lock your doors.
  • If you feel threatened or if the other driver is endangering others, call the police and provide them with the driver's vehicle description, location, and license plate number.

Injured by an Aggressive Driver? We Can Help.

If you’ve been involved in an injury-sustaining car accident due to an aggressive driver, you may be entitled to receive compensation. Our attorneys here at 'MAGGIO LAW are highly skilled in the area of car accident personal injury law. Don’t allow negligent individuals to get away with their wrongdoing—contact us with your case right away.

Contact our attorneys at (601) 265-6869 or complete an online form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.