Aggressive driving is an umbrella term that covers a number of reckless and dangerous driving behaviors. Some of the more evident acts that fall under this category include speeding, sudden lane changing, or running red lights. However, behaviors that fit this category go beyond what some drivers might consider “risky.”
A few of the seemingly innocuous acts that are classified as aggressive driving include driving at least 10 miles under the posted speed limit and block the left (passing) lane.
What is Aggressive Driving?
A study collected in 2008 by AAA found that 78% of drivers rate aggressive driving as a serious traffic safety problem. However, half of the respondents from the study reported exceeding the speed limit on major highways and neighborhood streets by 15 mph. Some drivers also admitted to speeding up to beat a yellow light (58%), pressuring other drivers to speed up (26%), tailgating (22%), and deliberately running red lights (6%).
“Aggressive driving generally refers to reckless behaviors, which for too many drivers have become the norm. It becomes a preferred manner of driving that is assertive, at times competitive, but not consciously considered aggressive or hostile by the driver,” said Art Liggio, president and CEO of Driving Dynamics.
However, aggressive behaviors are dangerous, and several are the leading causes of fatal crashes. Speeding, sudden lane changes, and failure to yield are the leading causes of on-road deaths from aggressive driving behaviors, in 2014 (the latest year for which there is data) collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Speeding resulted in 18.8% of fatal crashes, sudden lane changes resulted in 8.5%, and failure to yield led to 6.9% of fatal crashes.
Other aggressive driving behaviors include, but are not limited to: tailgating, flashing high beams at other drivers, passing on the shoulder, and making obscene gestures.
Aggressive driving behaviors can be triggered by acts of road rage, which is when a driver’s behavior escalates to criminal acts of violence.
Aggressive Fleet Behavior
Liggio said tailgating and speeding were common aggressive driving behaviors from fleet drivers. Tailgating is a large-scale issue for fleets, which has resulted in a high incident rate for rear-end collisions, he said.
“Behaviors, which people accept as normal ways of driving, really deliver a lot of the issues that fleet managers suffer year after year. And the thought here, to become better at safety performance, is that the drivers need to start having a self-awareness of what they are actually doing,” said Liggio. “Many companies have comprehensive fleet safety policies and procedures. But I believe they need to take a step back and question whether or not their programs are encouraging drivers to reflect on their manner of driving, to consciously consider how these activities affect their safety behind the wheel, and to deeply personalize what is at risk resulting in a sincere determination to make positives changes.”
Liggio said fleet operators can better monitor driving behaviors based on MVR reports, write-ups from crash reports, and reviewing telematics data, which Liggio said could help reveal data about aggressive driving behaviors such as sudden lane changes, speeding, and other aggressive driving behaviors.