Letter: Avoid aggressive driving

Avoid aggressive driving

Editor of the Reformer:

I was in central Pennsylvania 10 years ago and when driving through a small town I saw signs on the road that stated, "Aggressive driving area, take caution." I surmised that the town fathers took this option to save money, rather than hire more police officers.

In Brattleboro, I have witnessed more drivers not stopping at intersections but charging ahead into traffic, drivers turning left before making a right hand turn (mimicking the big trailer trucks), and passing on solid lines, in addition to speeding on all local roads. Nationally, traffic fatalities report and increase in of 9 percent over last year

According to AAA, there are ways to avoid hostile behavior on the road. Most drivers know "road rage" when they see it. It's when one driver intends to intimidate, threaten, or harm another, and often includes dangerous behaviors such as speeding or tailgating. Road rage happens when aggressive driving mixes with anger, and the results could be deadly. In fact, aggressive driving contributes to more than half of fatal crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And in a new AAA study, almost 80 percent of drivers surveyed said they expressed significant anger behind the wheel at least once in the past year.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied aggressive driving as part of its annual Traffic Safety Culture Index. Researchers surveyed 2,705 licensed drivers aged 16 and older. Nearly half of those drivers admitted to the following actions: 51 percent tailgating with a man shouting; 47 percent yelling at another driver; 45 percent honking to show anger or annoyance; 33 percent making angry gestures; 24 percent trying to block a lane change; 12 percent cutting off another vehicle; 4 percent leaving vehicle to confront another driver; and 3 percent hitting another vehicle.

Even a responsible driver can become a target of road rage. Nine out of 10 people believe that aggressive drivers are a serious safety threat. Here's how you can best avoid getting you or your passengers involved in a dangerous situation on the road: Don't offend; when switching lanes, first check that you have space, then use your signal; move to the right if you're driving more slowly than surrounding traffic; avoid tailgating, and slow down if you're following too closely; don't engage; steer clear of speeding, tailgating, and otherwise aggressive drivers; avoid making eye contact with angry drivers; they may see it as a challenge; contact the police if a situation escalates and becomes serious; don't get angry; don't take another driver's actions personally; let go of your pride, because "winning" is not worth risking your safety; and seek professional help if you think you have a serious behavioral issue.

Demetrius Latchis, Brattleboro, Sept. 2


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