Drivers have a responsibility to others on the road. When you’re operating a semi-truck, this responsibility is even more pronounced. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than other motorists because of the greater risks of accidents involving such large vehicles. If you’re a trucker, it’s important to avoid dangerous behaviors, including aggressive driving.
What is Aggressive Driving?
The broadest definition of aggressive driving is that it is any unsafe driving behavior that a person does due to getting frustrated on the road. Various states have laws that define this more specifically. Behaviors that fall under the umbrella of aggressive driving include speeding, following too closely (tailgating), cutting another vehicle off, or failing to yield the right-of-way.
Aggressive driving can escalate into road rage, which includes more serious behaviors like intentionally hitting another vehicle, running a vehicle off the road, or threatening another driver. Road rage also includes yelling, cursing, or making obscene gestures at other drivers.
Why is Aggressive Driving Dangerous?
Aggressive driving is technically a form of distracted driving since it takes your mind off the road. When you’re distracted due to a heightened emotional state, you aren’t making the best driving decisions possible. You may take longer to react to changes in road conditions, which can have devastating effects.
Additionally, many of the behaviors associated with aggressive driving reduce the amount of time you have to stop if you need to. Speeding and tailgating are two major examples of this. Keep in mind that in a semi-truck, the safe stopping distance is already significantly higher than it is for a standard passenger vehicle.
If aggressive driving escalates into road rage, it increases the level of danger. Drivers have been killed in the past due to confrontations arising from road rage.
Avoiding Aggressive Driving
It’s important to keep your cool behind the wheel and be a defensive driver rather than an aggressive one.
Here are some tips for avoiding aggressive driving:
- Take a few deep breaths if you notice that you’re starting to get frustrated.
- Remind yourself that your safety is a top priority. It’s easy to focus on getting in the most miles possible as a trucker, but at the end of the day, it’s better to go slowly and get to your destination safely than to rush and put yourself and others at risk.
- Try not to take mistakes that other drivers make personally.
- Avoid confrontation. Do not make eye contact with drivers that are being aggressive toward you, and do your best to get out of those situations as quickly as possible.
- If you have a tendency to get frustrated easily, consider listening to calming music while you drive. This can reduce aggressive driving behaviors compared to other types of music.
- Make a trip plan. This may not seem related to aggressive driving, but one of the major reasons drivers behave aggressively is due to stress about getting to their destination on time. With an effective trip plan, you can better plan for delays and unexpected circumstances, and this can help you feel more in control even if you are stuck behind a slow driver.
Drive With DSW
If you are a safe commercial driver, we’d love to welcome you to our fleet. We have openings for regional and over-the-road truckers.