If you’ve spent any time on the road, even if it’s just a short commute to work every day, chances are you’ve encountered dangerous drivers. You’ve probably shaken your head at drivers weaving through slower traffic, or gotten annoyed by someone following you a little too closely. But what can you do about these reckless drivers other than complain to family and friends later on?
Dangerous drivers are a huge problem, because they can cause you to get into a car accident – even if you’re driving safely and following all the rules of the road. The best way to avoid this type of accident is to be vigilant, recognize dangerous driving, and put some distance between yourself and anyone driving recklessly or erratically.
What Are the Signs of Dangerous Driving?
In order to avoid reckless drivers, you first need to recognize dangerous driving behavior. Sometimes this behavior is obvious—if you notice someone texting and weaving in and out of their lane, it’s easy to tell you should keep your distance. In some situations, however, the red flags are less glaring. A few signs of dangerous driving you should look out for are:
• Not going with the flow of traffic (traveling either significantly faster or slower than most other cars on the road)
• Tailgating (following other cars too closely)
• Quickly weaving in and out of lanes
• Failing to use turn signals
• Overusing brakes
• Not leaving a safe distance when cutting into a lane in front of another vehicle
• Driving in other vehicles’ blind spots
6 Tips to Avoid Car Accidents with Reckless Drivers
Now that you know what to watch out for, here are some defensive driving tactics to avoid an accident:
1 Avoid driving at peak traffic hours when possible. According to a survey from Autoblog Canada, heavy traffic is one of the leading causes of road rage, causing 24% of the Canadians surveyed to get worked up (it’s reasonable to assume that Americans experience similar ill will towards rush hour). Since road rage causes reckless and aggressive driving, it’s best to avoid tinderbox situations whenever possible.
2 Leave a safe following distance. There’s no way to know if the driver in front of you is suddenly going to slam on the brakes, so you should always leave enough room so that you’ll have time to stop if the behavior of that driver suddenly changes. The Florida DMV recommends using the 2-second following rule: look at a fixed landmark and notice when the car in front of you drives by it, and then count “one-thousand one, one-thousand two.” If you pass the same landmark before you get to the end of “one thousand-two,” you’re following too closely.
3 Tap brakes lightly if another driver is tailgating. If the problem is that another driver is following you too closely, lightly tap your brakes to warn the driver behind you. If you’re already going with the flow of traffic, don’t feel pressured to go up to an unsafe speed just because an impatient driver is breathing down your neck. The driver will most likely leave a little more room when they see your brake lights and pass you when they can.
4 Don’t linger in other drivers’ blind spots. Even if you always check your mirrors and look over your shoulder before changing lanes, you can’t guarantee that everyone else will. Reckless drivers may fail to check their blind spot or use their turn signals, so avoid lingering in someone else’s blind spot. And remember, commercial trucks have a much larger blind spot than passenger vehicles, so give semis and tractor trailers an even wider berth.
5 Don’t take others’ aggressive driving behavior personally. It’s easy to get angry when another driver does something stupid, especially if you’ve had a long day and just want to get home. However, remember that a driver merging in front of you at the last second or swerving around you in traffic isn’t a personal slight. By staying calm, you can help minimize your chances of being in an accident.
6 Don’t engage with an aggressive driver. Don’t let tension escalate by making eye contact or flipping off an inconsiderate driver. Engaging with someone who is already driving dangerously might cause that person to behave even more recklessly in an attempt to “get back” at you, and that’s the last thing you want.
When you notice someone driving dangerously or unpredictably, the best thing you can do is to give them as much space as possible. Of course, sometimes that’s not possible, and in some cases, a dangerous driver might cause an accident despite your best efforts to avoid a crash. When this happens, you should hold that driver accountable by working with an experienced car accident attorney.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.