According to AAA’s Independence Day Travel Forecast, 44.2 million people across America are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend. 37.5 million people will be traveling by car, which means the roadways will be crowded and patience will be in high demand to avoid potentially dangerous confrontations and cases of road rage.
“Plan for crowded highways, remember to pack your patience and allow plenty of extra time to get to your destination safely,” says Theresa Podguski, AAA East Central Director of Legislative Affairs. “Drivers should take every precaution they can to avoid ending up in a situation that can lead to aggressive driving.”
Any unsafe driving behavior, performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety, can constitute aggressive driving. Examples of aggressive driving behaviors include speeding in heavy traffic, tailgating, running red lights, cutting in front of another driver and slowing down, and many more. Extreme cases of aggressive driving can escalate to road rage, which includes cursing and rude or obscene gestures, throwing objects, ramming, sideswiping, and forcing drivers off of the road.
AAA Tips to Prevent Aggressive Driving
You may see other drivers doing things that are illegal, inconsiderate, and even incomprehensible. Don’t respond personally. Most drivers are not thinking about their impact on you: they are just rushed, distracted, or upset.
Follow the rules of the road:
– Maintain adequate following distance.
– Use turn signals.
– Allow others to merge.
– Use your high beams responsibly.
– Tap your horn if you must (but no long blasts with accompanying hand gestures).
– 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.
Remaining calm and courteous behind the wheel lowers your risk of an unpleasant encounter with another driver, or with law enforcement.
Dealing with Confrontation
– Avoid eye contact with angry drivers.
– Don’t respond to aggression with aggression.
– If you feel you are at risk, drive to a public place such as a police station, hospital, or fire station.
– When you park, allow room so you can pull out safely if someone approaches you aggressively.
– Use your horn to attract attention but remain in your locked vehicle.
– If you are confronted, stay as calm and courteous as possible.
– If you feel threatened, call 911.
– 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.
AAA also recommends that 4th of July travelers try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave will be in the early mornings because the roads should be less crowded, and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in less congestion and fewer crowds.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 81 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.