Aggressive drivers come in all shapes and sizes. According to a study from the University of Texas, teenagers are the age group most likely to drive aggressively. Aggressive driving can be a factor in car accidents, and in the United States, car wrecks are the leading cause of death for teenagers. In fact, the rate of fatal crashes for drivers aged 16 to 19 is four times that of older drivers. Those who survive an accident caused by aggressive driving can suffer severe personal injuries that have devastating and lifelong consequences.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
AAA defines aggressive driving as “any unsafe behavior, performed deliberately and with ill intention and disregard for safety.” The most common acts of aggressive driving include:
- Speeding through heavy traffic
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Sudden lane changes without signaling
- Running red lights/stop signs, speeding through intersections
- Cutting off other vehicles or blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
- Cutting in front of another vehicle and then slowing down or braking
- Flashing headlights or high beams at other drivers in retaliation
- Honking excessively
- Gesturing rudely or obscenely
Aggressive driving can escalate into a road rage situation, which is extremely dangerous. An enraged driver may try to run someone off the road and cause a fatal accident. Some road rage incidents involve firearms.
What Causes Aggressive Driving in Teens?
Teens drive aggressively for many reasons, but first and foremost may be the fact that the teen brain is not fully developed, which affects their ability to control impulsive behavior. Sleep patterns also shift during the teenage years, making it difficult for them to get enough sleep. Their body clock keeps them up later at night and waking later in the morning, but because of school this is not possible. The result is sleepy and irritable teens who are more prone to drive aggressively.
Other causes of aggressive driving by teens include peer pressure; the type of vehicle being driven; and outside influences such as movies, video games, and social media. A teen driver may be egged on or feel pressure from impatient friends in the car to speed or otherwise drive aggressively. The study done at the University of Texas found that teens in pickup trucks drove more aggressively and crashed more often than teens driving cars. Other studies suggest that video games, movies, television, and videos viewed on social media give teens the false impression of what happens to drivers who speed excessively. Unlike in real life, onscreen drivers often walk away or at least survive crashes caused by aggressive driving. The reality is that movies such as The Fast and Furious mislead some teens into thinking that aggressive driving is cool and the consequences are minimal.
Helping Teens Avoid Aggressive Driving
The number one thing adults can do to help prevent aggressive driving by teens is to model good driving habits. When a child grows up seeing their parent or caregiver yelling at another car and speeding into the next lane to pass it, they assume that is normal driving behavior. Parents should model good driving habits by obeying traffic laws and speed limits and never using a cell phone while driving.
Talk to your teen about the importance of being well rested and alert when driving. Fatigue causes irritability, which leads to aggressive driving, and also the dangerous condition of drowsy driving in which a teen may have trouble focusing and fall asleep at the wheel. Teens should learn to plan ahead so that they are not rushing to get where they need to go. The stress of being stuck in traffic and behind schedule can cause aggressive driving.
Help your teen deal with rush hour traffic jams and other frustrations out on the road by teaching them calming techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and listening to soothing music. Remind them that although another driver may do something rude, incomprehensible, and even illegal, they do not need to respond personally or emotionally to these actions. Assume the best, not the worst, as the other driver may just be having a bad day or is lost. Discuss how to head off situations that provoke aggression and review these tips for defensive driving together:
- Leave plenty of following distance.
- Be courteous and allow others to merge.
- Use turn signals so that others know your intent and can accommodate your movements.
- Use the horn sparingly and responsibly.
Warn your teen to never engage with an aggressive driver. Even making eye contact can provoke someone. Instead give the other driver plenty of room and keep as much distance as possible. Teens should learn never to leave their vehicle if being taunted or challenged by an aggressive driver and to call 911 if necessary.
Consequences of Aggressive Driving
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that around 35,000 Americans die every year in car accidents. Almost all motor vehicle accidents are due to driver error and are preventable. Popular teen movies and video games rarely feature the results of reckless driving. Teenagers should know that aggressive driving can cause serious accidents, terrible injuries, and permanent disfigurement or scarring. The consequences can range from fines and loss of their driver’s license to prosecution, community service, paying compensation for property damage, or jail time. The trauma of a car accident can stay with victims their whole lives in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Alexandria Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Recover from Aggressive Driving Accidents
If you were involved in an accident caused by the action of an aggressive or negligent driver, reach out to the Alexandria car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced and compassionate legal team will investigate your case and craft a personalized legal strategy to secure fair and full compensation. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.