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A bad day at work. Suffering from lack of sleep. Running behind schedule. Sitting in bad traffic. Breaking up with your girlfriend. There are countless excuses for aggressive driving. But that doesn’t mean that any of those excuses are justified. Aggressive driving is defined as "a traffic offense or combination of offenses such as following too closely, speeding, unsafe lane changes, failing to signal intent to change lanes, and other forms of negligent or inconsiderate driving." For those that think aggressive driving is merely a minor issue, they are sorely mistaken. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 66 percent of all annual traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving actions, such as passing on the right, running red lights and tailgating.

Dr. John Larson has grouped aggressive drivers into five categories: Speeders, passive aggressors, narcissists, vigilantes, and competitors. Numerous drivers, after reading those categories and the definition of aggressive driving, might discover that they are in fact, aggressive drivers. But identifying yourself as an aggressive driver is only one step toward solving the problem. Once someone realizes that he or she is an aggressive driver, he or she needs to take steps to remedy that problem. If he or she does not, the percentage of fatalities caused by aggressive driving will likely continue to rise.

How an you prevent yourself from being an aggressive driver?

Talking about preventing aggressive driving is one thing. Providing feasible ways for aggressive drivers to control themselves is another. Prior to getting in the car it is important to be relaxed. All people relax differently, but taking a deep breath and listening to comforting music can do the trick. Someone who is having long-term problems or just a bad day, should put things in perspective before getting on the road. He or she needs to put things in perspective by looking at the big picture. That person might be extremely mad or irritated, but it is important to realize that that frustration does not warrant letting your emotions run rampant and endangering other drivers on the road. Those other drivers did not cause your problems. Drivers also sometimes drive aggressively because of something that happens when they are already driving. It is crucial to have a mechanism to control your emotions. A possible solution is telling yourself how important it is to stay calm and relaxed and to think about the potential consequences if you lose your cool.

Now, even if you aren’t driving aggressively, you cannot control other drivers and they may be driving irrationally. It is imperative to avoid challenging those drivers. The first thought should be to try and safely get out of their way. Just let them continue driving. Nothing good comes from staring them down or driving aggressively yourself. Once you have safely separated yourself from the situation you can call and report the aggressive driver to the appropriate authorities.

Aggressive driving is a very serious problem in our society. However, it is a serious problem that can be largely avoided. All drivers need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are part of the problem. If not, then continue driving safely. But for those drivers who realize they are part of the problem, it is imperative that they decide to take the necessary actions to become part of the solution. Only then will we see a dramatic decrease in fatalities that occur as a result of aggressive driving.

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