It’s just a short drive northeast of Trenton to get to the site of a recent New jersey crash that made clear the dangers of aggressive driving. According to a news report, a 24-year-old man was apparently speeding when he lost control of his northbound vehicle. His car spun out, crossed the Route 130 median in South Brunswick, and crashed head-on into a southbound vehicle driven by a 55-year-old woman.
Law enforcement officials said both drivers died in the violent head-on collision.
Speed is just one element
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that aggressive driving is increasingly a factor in motor vehicle crashes. The federal agency says excess speed is just one of the elements of this type of dangerous approach to driving, though a study last year made it plain that excess speed is the best predictor of auto accidents.
In addition to speeding, there are often other ingredients in aggressive driving, such as the following:
- Running red lights
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Illegal driving on the shoulder, in a ditch, on a sidewalk or in a median
- Passing in no-pass areas
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failure to signal turns
- Making improper turns
According to the NHTSA, “most motorists rarely drive aggressively, and some never at all.” There is a small segment of drivers, however, for whom aggressive driving is the norm. For them, this risky style of driving is persistent or habitual, and might involve elements of mental illness that can include chronic anger.
For most drivers, episodes of aggressive driving are triggered by one or more of several factors that can include running late, frustration with traffic congestion or slow drivers, and anonymity. Yes, anonymity.
The NHTSA says that driving is a combination of public and private behavior. You’re traveling through a public space, but you’re doing so in your vehicle, somewhat insulated from the world. You’re shielded by the metal of your vehicle and protected from hostile weather, and often listening to music of your choice. Blend all of that together and you’ll find that some people have a sense of detachment while driving, as if they’re observing the traffic rather than being a part of it.
That feeling of isolation can allow or enable antisocial behavior sometimes expressed as aggressive driving.
No matter the motivation, aggressive driving puts innocent motorists in danger of being involved in high-speed wrecks that result in severe injuries or fatalities, such as the tragic crash we described at the top of this post.
After an aggressive driver has caused severe injuries, or even the loss of a loved one, there are options available that can hold those responsible for that pain financially accountable.