People should save their aggression for video games, because getting behind the wheel is never a good time to get aggressive. Safe driving demands that you obey the rules of the road with a cool head. Nevertheless, we encounter aggressive drivers every day on the streets of Chicago. Arm yourself with the facts, know the signs of aggressive driving, and have a safety plan for dealing with dangerous situations. If you do become injured due to an aggressive driver, seek qualified legal assistance as soon as possible.
Getting Aggressive in Illinois
Illinois law defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” In fact, aggressive driving can come in many forms (some of which you may not have even thought of as aggressive driving):
- Cutting off another vehicle
- Not following posted traffic signs, including red lights and stop signs
- Slamming on brakes to discourage a tailgater
- Passing on the road’s shoulder
- Using inappropriate gestures toward another driver
- Yelling at another driver
- Repeated inappropriate honking of car horn
- Repeated inappropriate flashing of headlights
No matter how frustrated you may become while driving, engaging in any of these practices is a terrible idea that could lead to tragic results.
A Closer Look
Some aspects of aggressive driving are worth examining more closely:
- The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that speeding is one of the most prevalent aggressive behaviors on our roadways. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed is a major factor in more than 30 percent of traffic fatalities. If someone’s driving speed is endangering you, pull over, take an exit, or do whatever you can to stay away from that vehicle. Speed kills. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if necessary.
- Drivers who swerve in and out of lanes or in and out of traffic may be impaired, aggressive, or both. Avoiding that vehicle is far more important than understanding the underlying reason. Give drivers who are swerving all the room they want.
Avoid Aggressive Drivers
While it’s important not to engage in aggressive driving practices, it’s equally important to avoid aggressive drivers and to avoid making dangerous situations worse. Chicago has its share of aggressive drivers, and as such, learn how to keep yourself and your precious cargo safe on the road. Several techniques can help you de-escalate a dangerous aggressive-driver situation:
Steer clear of aggressive drivers. Aggressive drivers are usually angry drivers, and they aren’t often concerned about the dangerous situations they’re responsible for creating. Avoid being victimized by aggressive drivers by giving them as much space as you safely can. Aggressive drivers put everyone on edge, but once aggressive drivers move on, you can calmly return to safe, defensive driving. Staying away from aggressive drivers is your most effective defense—make it your top priority. If you believe that a driving situation is becoming eminently dangerous, call 911.
Refrain from escalating the situation. Rude, aggressive drivers are apt to make your blood boil, but resist the urge to retaliate by becoming aggressive yourself. In fact, engaging an aggressive driver can be a fatal mistake. Remember that the actions of one aggressive driver can trigger responses in other drivers on the road, which can exponentially escalate the situation and compounding its danger. Never underestimate just how aggressive a driver might become. Allow your cooler head to prevail by rising above the situation and by staying far away from aggressive drivers.
Avoid eye contact. By avoiding eye contact with an aggressive driver (or anyone in the driver’s vehicle), you can help keep yourself out of a dangerous situation. Eye contact can be interpreted as a challenge (even if it isn’t meant as such), and aggressive drivers are notoriously easy to set off. Keep your eyes on the road—where they belong—and avoid engaging with aggressive drivers.
Report dangerous driving. If an aggressive driver is endangering the lives of others on the road, you owe it to yourself and to your fellow travelers to report that driver. We all share the responsibility of helping to keep our roads safe for everyone, and the life you save could be your own. Try to provide the emergency operator with as many details about the offending motorist’s vehicle as possible (without taking dangerous risks in the process). If possible, safely pull over before calling.
Stay in your car. Unless staying in your car poses a threat, always remain in your car with the doors locked and the windows closed if you are personally confronted by an aggressive driver—whether after a crash or at a stop. It’s worth repeating that you should never underestimate how aggressive someone might become. By leaving your vehicle, you could send a signal that you’re prepared to engage in aggression with the other driver, which is never a safe signal to send. Furthermore, you’re far more physically vulnerable when you’re outside the protection of your car. If another driver is attempting to force you to engage, call 911.
If You’ve Been Injured by an Aggressive Driver, Call a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible
Driving is a dangerous business, and aggressive drivers make it that much more so. We share Chicago’s roads with aggressive drivers, and if such a driver has injured you or someone you care about, you understand how traumatic that can be. Don’t take it upon yourself to navigate this difficult terrain; you need experienced legal counsel. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Abels & Annes are here to help. We have the knowledge and dedication to help defend your claim, protect your rights, and obtain your rightful compensation. If you were injured by an aggressive driver, please don’t hesitate to contact or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.