Aggressive driving can be a big problem for truck drivers. Whether a truck driver engages in aggressive driving or is a victim of another aggressive driver, the result is the same– road safety is compromised.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into aggressive driving. We will explore the distinction between aggressive driving and road rage and discuss examples of aggressive driving by truck drivers. We’ll also look at aggressive driving statistics, the root causes, and how to report aggressive drivers to the authorities.
What is Aggressive Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as “dangerous on-the-road behaviors.” The agency also says t “this category” of dangerous behaviors “comprises following too closely, driving at excessive speeds, weaving through traffic, and running stop lights and signs, among other acts.”
The “other acts” mentioned by the NHTSA include cars cutting off semi trucks and motorists making lane changes or turns without using their turn signal.
Unfortunately, these acts of aggressive driving occur more frequently than some might realize. However, truck drivers know that aggressive driving in the U.S. occurs around the clock, anywhere there is a roadway. Such a statement may lead some to ask what the big deal is if aggressive driving is so common, but the matter cannot be taken lightly. Aggressive driving puts people’s lives at risk. According to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety (MCRS), “more than half of all fatal crashes involve at least one aggressive driver.”
Some additional statistics:
- According to the NHTSA’s most recent data, in 2020, 48.7% of accidents were caused by acts that fall under the NHTSA’s definition of aggressive driving.
- According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 94% of crashes are due to the actions of the driver, while 2% are due to weather, 2% are due to vehicle mechanical issues, and 2% are listed as unknown.
What Is the Difference Between Aggressive Driving and Road Rage?
According to the NHTSA, the difference between aggressive driving and road rage is the element of intent. The NHTSA perceives aggressive driving as a spectrum, with road rage at the extreme end of that spectrum.
Aggressive driving is careless behavior – a matter of negligence rather than an expression of harmful intent. Meanwhile, road rage is an escalation ranging from angry gesturing all the way up to committing murder. Road rage is an intended action born of anger.
Examples of Aggressive Driving by Truck Drivers
Some examples of aggressive driving by truck drivers include:
This is the colloquial term for following too closely. Tailgating is a dangerous habit that some truck drivers fall into, and, in some instances, it is done as an act of road rage. This incredibly unsafe behavior can lead to a fatal incident. Big trucks take longer to stop, and if one is following a vehicle too closely, an accident can occur if traffic suddenly stops. Tailgating accidents can lead to criminal charges. The best way to avoid tailgating is to pay attention to the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you and ensure that you have plenty of distance to safely come to a full stop without causing an incident.
While the saying goes, “time is money,” speeding in trucking can be incredibly costly. The best way to avoid falling into the aggressive driving habit of speeding is to always pay attention to the speed limit and obey the law. Monitoring your speed is especially important in construction zones, where even greater hazards exist. The fines for speeding in a semi-truck are substantially higher and oftentimes can negate whatever money you were trying to make or save by disobeying the posted speed limits.
Running drivers off the road
Because of their big size, semi-trucks can sometimes run other motorists off the road. Doing so could be seen as an act of aggressive driving. It can also be seen as an act of road rage and vehicular assault. If an injury or death occurs because a big truck runs a motorist off the road, criminal charges can come into play. The best way to avoid running other motorists off the road is to be aware of your surroundings. Check your mirrors frequently and maintain a safe cushion of distance around your truck by adjusting your speed and lane positioning.
Weaving in and out of traffic
Weaving in and out of traffic can cut off other motorists or cause collisions. To avoid traffic weaving, simply pick a lane and stick to it. Aggressively switching lanes increases the chances of you ending up in an accident. Furthermore, frequent lane changes will often save you no time. Frequent lane changing promotes traffic, and if you end up in an accident, you must sacrifice a lot more time.
Brake checking may be considered aggressive driving if done to warn off other motorists tailgating you. However, it’s a fine line, and brake checking can easily cross over into the area of road rage when done to cause an accident. Rather than slamming on your brakes to show that driver what’s what, slow down gradually until the offending vehicle passes you or backs off. If you can get away with it if you brake-check someone and they rear-end you, think again. Today’s trucks collect a substantial amount of data that law enforcement can review while investigating an incident Sudden braking events at the time of the incident will be recorded, and you can be found at fault.
The Root Causes of Aggressive Driving
The root of aggressive driving can be found in three key areas:
Aggressive driving is more frequently encountered in areas of high traffic, and some truck drivers succumb to the temptation to follow suit. Keeping a cool head even in high-traffic areas is one mark of a skilled truck driver. Driving aggressively will not get you to your next stop on time any faster than driving safely will. Driving aggressively increases the odds that you will never reach your next stop, which can be a catastrophe for your bottom line.
Being behind schedule
The trucking industry has a lot of pressure to deliver loads on time, but tight schedules are never an excuse to drive aggressively. If circumstances dictate that you’re not going to make your destination on time, the safest thing to do is to communicate the update to those who need to know. Hopefully, your customers are willing to reschedule your delivery, or your dispatch may be able to repower the load to ensure it arrives on time.
Disregard for other drivers
We are all human, and sometimes we live in our own heads with our own priorities and problems. Unfortunately, sometimes this shows up when we are on the road. However, driving is dangerous, and we must be especially mindful of others and our surroundings on the road. Therefore, drive as if your loved ones are in the vehicles surrounding you and drive accordingly.
How to Report Aggressive Drivers
If you witness an aggressive driver on the road, report it to the authorities. They can take action against the aggressive driver and make the roads safer for everyone.
There is currently no national hotline to report aggressive driving. However, most states have aggressive driver hotlines, and those numbers are often posted along interstate highways, as well as online at each state’s Department of Transportation website. If you are in an area where the number is not posted or is unavailable, call 9-1-1 or contact the relevant law enforcement agency via their office line.
When you make your report:
For non-commercial vehicles such as cars, pickup trucks, RVs, etc., record the make, model, and license plate information along with any other identifiers you notice, such as the appearance of the driver, if possible, and pass that information on to law enforcement so they can quickly locate the offender. Location on a significant or interstate highway is another important piece of information to note, so include the mile marker and direction of travel as well.
For commercial vehicles such as trucks, note the company name and the color, make, and model of the truck and trailer. You can also note the truck number (usually located on the front fenders), trailer number (usually on the tail and nose of the trailer), license plate number, and a description of the driver, if possible. Again, location and direction of travel are also critical.
In the trucking industry, safety is always the number one priority. The safer the truck driver, the more skillful they are considered at doing their job. Aggressive driving is dangerous, and any form of it is strongly discouraged. Aggressive driving is a leading cause of fatal accidents, so remember that you don’t want to add to that statistic. Be aware of the root causes of aggressive driving and seek to avoid such behaviors while watching for other drivers driving aggressively. Promptly report such individuals to law enforcement.
If you’re looking for a safer place to drive, try CloudTrucks today. At CloudTrucks, your schedule is in your hands, reducing the urge to drive aggressively. We also provide trip planning software and operational support to help you succeed in your trucking career.