Aggressive Drivers: A Danger That Jeopardizes Motorcycle Riders’ Lives
With our face-paced lives and the need to get to our next destination in less time, aggressive driving is becoming a major factor in accidents on our busy roadways and highway. It is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as occurring when a driver “commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Even worse, it can escalate into road rage where the driver commits violence against another motorist, such as pulling out a gun or using his vehicle as a weapon. While an aggressive driver poses a danger to anyone on the road, it can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists who have no protection between themselves and the aggressive driver’s vehicle.
What Are Ways Motorists Endanger Motorcycle Riders by Driving Aggressively?
Many passenger vehicle and truck drivers may be engaging in aggressive driving without even realizing it. However, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving contributes to more than half of all accident fatalities and can trigger escalating behaviors in other drivers. Common driving behaviors that are considered aggressive driving and may lead to motorcycle accidents include:
- Speeding. Excessive speed is a huge factor in aggressive driving fatalities. According to the Insurance Information Institute, it was the leading cause of motorcycle fatalities in 2014, accounting for 18.8 percent of deaths. When a driver is speeding, he cannot stop in time, slow down, or swerve out of the way when driving conditions require this. In addition, he could lose control of his vehicle and rear-end a motorcycle if his speeding leads him to tailgate.
- Improper lane changes. When a driver forces his way into a lane or changes lanes quickly without signaling, he can easily hit a motorcycle that he may not have seen, especially if he was impatient and more focused on cutting in. Swerving in and out of traffic lanes is equally as dangerous.
- Failing to signal. Failing to signal or turning suddenly without warning—sometimes illegally—can give a motorcycle rider no advance notice or opportunity to slow down if necessary in response to the aggressive driver’s actions.
- Tailgating. A driver who is tailgating is also most likely speeding. This practice is especially dangerous for a motorcyclist who could be smashed between two vehicles or thrown off his bike if it cartwheels in a rear-end collision.
- Driving slowly in the fast lane. Driving slowly in the fast lane is a more passive type of aggressive driving, but equally dangerous and annoying. A motorcycle and other vehicles could tailgate or be tailgated by impatient drivers or end up in a crash trying to pass the slow driver.
- Failing to yield the right-of-way. Impatient drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way can cause T-bone accidents with unsuspecting motorcycle riders who are legally in the intersection.
- Excessive blinking of headlights. Blinking headlights on and off repeatedly or putting on the bright lights can blind motorists ahead of the aggressive driver, making an accident even more likely to occur.
- Excessively using the horn. Using a horn to express displeasure at other drivers—especially if it is done for a long duration—can cause a motorcycle rider or other driver to become annoyed and perhaps respond in a way that escalates the situation.
- Making obscene gestures or verbal threats. Drivers who make obscene gestures or verbal threats risk turning an already aggressive driving situation into one involving road rage, with tragic consequences for one of the participants.
What Should You Do If Confronted by an Aggressive Driver?
If an aggressive driver is near you while you are riding your motorcycle, you need to take actions to stay safe. Ways you can protect yourself include:
- Get out of the way of the aggressive driver and stay clear of him.
- Stay calm and focused on driving to where you are going.
- Avoid making eye contact with the aggressive driver or engaging him in any way.
- Avoid blocking the passing lane, especially if you are going slower than the speed limit. If you are in the passing lane, move out of the lane as soon as you can do so safely.
- If you are in real danger from an aggressive driver, change your course if necessary to get away from him. Call 911 or go to a police station if necessary.
Even if you are careful to avoid or at least not antagonize an aggressive driver, he may cause your accident by his unsafe driving practices. You need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can help you hold this driver accountable for his actions and to obtain the compensation you deserve. Start an online chat today to schedule a free case evaluation with David Brauns.