Drivers can be very impatient of other road users if they make a mistake on the road. Aggressive driving is very commonplace on Irish roads and I’m sure we all see incidents of rude gestures, tailgating, flashing of lights or cutting drivers off when changing lane on a daily basis. Retaliation to one of these incidents can be all it takes to flare into something more serious that could end in tragic circumstances.
Research tells us that while many people say they have experienced aggressive driving, few admit that they themselves are aggressive to others. A survey we carried out a few years ago on aggressive driving found that two in every five drivers said they were the victims of aggression on the road. When asked if they ever directed aggressive behaviour towards other road users, only one in five admitted to ever having done so.
The highest level of aggressive driving was experienced in Dublin (43pc), not surprising when you consider the traffic volumes in the capital.
Drivers typically have two main goals: to arrive at their destination on time, and to arrive safely. When these goals are blocked due to traffic and other road users poor driving stress and anger can occur. So what can you do to reduce your frustration when driving and avoid a road rage situation:
It’s easier to feel aggressive towards another drive due to the nature of driving and the anonymity provided by being inside a car, remember the other driver is only human and we all make mistakes and poor judgements sometimes, try not to take it personally.
Research also suggests that drivers are more likely to drive aggressively in relation to perceived lower status, and particularly learner drivers. Everyone had to learn to drive at some stage and some take to it quicker than others, learners need extra time and space so be patient when you see that L or N plate!
If possible give yourself extra time to get to work or home so you are not stressed out watching the clock.
If you encounter an aggressive or intolerant driver avoid a confrontation and don’t retaliate. Even if you're in the right, it’s not worth it. Keep calm and in extreme cases pull in, sometimes putting as much distance as possible between you and a dangerous driver is a good idea!
Report the aggressive driving incident to the Gardaí through the Garda Traffic Watch number, 1890 205 805. If you have dash camera footage of the incident, let the Gardai know this when you are reporting it.