8 December 2005

Aggressive Driving: How It Impacts Driving a Collector Vehicle

First we must define aggressive driving before we can consider it and its impact when we drive our collector vehicles.

Consider A Review of the Literature on Aggressive Driving Research by Leo Tasca of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. He states “A useful definition will enumerate the specific driving behaviors that constitute aggressive driving.” “…the definition should not include behaviors associated with road rage. Extreme violence on the road is criminal behavior which cannot be adequately addressed through traffic safety programs.” “It is likely the offending driver possesses the knowledge, skills and ability to do better.” (The point here is that most bad drivers deliberately choose to drive poorly/dangerously).

Tasca says, “With these principles in mind, we can suggest the following definition:

A driving behavior is aggressive if it is deliberate, likely to increase the risk of collision and is motivated by impatience, hostility and/or an attempt to save time.”

Tasca suggests the following as aggressive driving problems:

  • Tailgating
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Improper passing
  • Cutting in too close in front of a vehicle being overtaken
  • Passing on the road shoulder
  • Improper lane changes (failure to signal)
  • Failure to yield the right of way to other road users
  • Preventing other drivers from passing
  • Unwillingness to extend cooperation to motorists unable to merge or change lanes due to traffic conditions
  • Driving at speeds far in excess of the norm which result in frequent tailgating, frequent and abrupt lane changes
  • Running stop signs
  • Running red lights
  • Flashing headlights (in anger)
  • Sustained horn-honking
  • Glaring at another driver to show disapproval
  • Yelling
  • Gesturing

In a study by the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Agency), 30 percent of U.S. drivers thought aggressive driving had increased from the year prior. Over half of the NHTSA respondents reported that they see vehicles traveling at unsafe speeds all or most of the time (speeding).

The (other) most frequently cited threatening driving behaviors were:

36% Another driver had cut very closely in front of me

19% Another driver drove very closely behind me (tailgating)

15% Another driver passed me in a dangerous manner

13% Another driver cut me off at an intersection or exit

4% Another driver wove in and out of traffic

It’s easy to see how much more dangerous these behaviors by other road users are for vintage car owners and passengers when we drive our collector vehicles which, essentially, have none or few modern safety features.

While we “car guys/car gals” generally are subconsciously aware of the issues facing us while driving our collector vehicles, it makes sense to bring the focus to the conscious-behavior level.

In other words, how can we further improve our chances of NOT being a statistic while still enjoying our hobby and our cars?

  • Watch out for weather conditions before making a trip. Look at weather forecasts online or on cable television if possible. Take the limitations of your vehicle into account.
  • Keep calm before and during the drive, being aware that some drivers are going to make mistakes or be rude. Expecting this means one is less likely to react to it. In other words, don’t become part of the problem. Soothing music has been proven to help drivers in staying more alert and calm in heavy traffic.
  • Use good driving techniques – we are an ambassador of our hobby every time we are behind the wheel of our collector cars. Uninformed people, including politicians who write “scrap-laws” and other restrictive laws threatening our hobby, are “watching” via the police and traffic ticket statistics.
  • Refrain from excessive speeding, exhibitions of “teen male” driving such as burnouts on public roadways or illegal racing. Such activities can make enemies of our hobby by even a well-informed public.
  • Stay off the cell phone unless you’re stopped at the side of the roadway. First, it’s illegal to do so in many states and municipalities. Also, it’s now known that when using a cell phone, drivers react as poorly as drunk drivers. Don’t forget that we’re supposed to be having fun when we’re in the collector vehicles, not talking about business on the phone. So, stop, think, relax, enjoy! Keep the phone with you for emergency purposes only.
  • Be more aware of drivers around us and avoid them if possible, even if we have to pull off the road for a break. Research shows that if drivers are relatively young, male, in a traffic situation that confers anonymity or where escape is highly likely, sensation-seeking or aggressive personality types, angry or experiencing unexpected traffic congestion, there is a larger likelihood of poor driving on their part – and that can place us and our passengers at risk.

So, with all of this in mind, get out there and enjoy your collector vehicles and share the enjoyment of our hobby with others – safely. For more on driver’s safety, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website at www.dot.gov.

 

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