It is a time to celebrate with family and friends.
That being said, many of us will travel on the roads during the next months, venturing out into a world where kindness, joy, and charity sometimes seem to take a back seat to rudeness, anger, and danger...
on highways and byways where aggressive drivers endanger everyone around them.
What are the factors that lead to road rage? How can you avoid aggressive drivers? And, maybe the most important question...
Are you an aggressive driver who needs help with road rage? The Department of Transportation defines aggressive driving as "driving behavior that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property.
" The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says aggressive drivers are more likely to: -Speed, tailgate, fail to yield, weave in and out of traffic, pass on the right, make improper/unsafe lane changes, run stop signs and red lights, make hand/facial gestures, scream, honk, and flash their lights; -Climb into the anonymity of a vehicle and take out their frustrations on other drivers; -Allow their high frustration levels to diminish any concern for fellow motorists; and -Be impaired by alcohol/drugs and drive without seat belts.
Although studies show that a majority of drivers involved in road rage incidents are males between the ages of 18 and 26, there really is no "typical" aggressive driver.
Aggressive driving can affect the best of us - even successful, well-educated people in a hurry to get someplace.
Alcohol consumption, drug use, and past criminal behavior are factors that can lead to road rage, and violent traffic situations are rarely the result of a single incident.
Rather, they are the cumulative result of a long series of stressors in the driver's life.
The NHTSA identifies three factors that are linked to aggressive driving: 1.
Lack of responsible driving behavior - it's the "me first" philosophy.
Reduced levels of enforcement - because of budget constraints, many jurisdictions have cut back on traffic enforcement, leaving motorists less concerned about possible traffic citations and fines.
More travel and congestion, particularly in urban areas - traffic can be terrible, especially during the holidays.
With more drivers and seemingly more construction on the roads, the patience of all drivers is tested.
What else causes road rage? Unfortunately, many of the incidents cited seem meaningless.
Episodes of road rage have ignited over: -Cutting off another driver; -Not allowing someone to pass; -Arguing over a parking space; -Driving too slow; -Tailgating; -Not using a turn signal; -Playing loud music; and -Making obscene gestures.
I could go on and on, and I'm sure you have personally observed other incidents, too.
So how do you avoid aggressive drivers, not only during the holiday season, but all through the year? The best way is to start with yourself.
Take an honest look at your behavior and make sure you are not an aggressive driver.
Has the stress of your life increased your tendency to be aggressive on the road? When another driver cuts you off, will that be the last straw? Only you can control yourself.
Accept the challenge of making changes that will promote safer driving.
If your own driving behavior is safe, you still need to make sure you are aware of the other guy.
Stress levels increase at this time of year for a number of reasons; remember that when someone else displays aggressive behavior and take these steps to protect yourself: -Never retaliate with obscene gestures or similar actions.
Do your best to let the other driver get by.
Being conciliatory may not always be in our human nature, but it is important not to let emotions escalate out of hand.
-Always follow the traffic laws and remain calm, even in difficult traffic or weather conditions.
-Be more attentive at traffic signals and stops.
Aggressive drivers don't always stop and sometimes run lights and signs.
-Maintain the 2-second rule when following another vehicle.
Aggressive drivers can weave in and out, and you are more likely to avoid a collision by keeping your distance.
-Be more aware of your surroundings.
It's easy to be distracted by conversation, music, and cell phones, so limit or avoid them.
Raise your level of awareness to increase your level of safety.
Finally, remember that the most important thing is arriving at your destination safely, not how quickly you get there.
Take your time and think safety first.