Nobody thinks of themself as a bad driver. We all assume it’s the others on the road who drive carelessly and cause accidents.

However, many of us engage in dangerous driving behaviors without even realizing it. Unsafe habits can become a pattern of aggressive driving that puts everyone in jeopardy.

Aggressive versus defensive driving

Aggressive driving is far more common than you might think. It contributes to a staggering 2/3 of motor vehicle crashes in midstate Pennsylvania – more than distracted and drunk driving combined.

But what exactly is aggressive driving? In reviewing crash data to determine whether aggressive driving was a factor, PennDOT looks at 33 unsafe behaviors, including:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting others off
  • Illegal passing
  • Weaving
  • Failing to yield
  • Failing to signal
  • Running red lights or stop signs

By contrast, defensive driving can help you avoid accidents by making habits of safe driving techniques such as:

  • Never driving too fast for the conditions
  • Maintaining at least a two-second distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you
  • Yielding to others
  • Anticipating potential dangers
  • Signaling turns and lane changes well in advance
  • Minimizing distractions such as cellphone use and eating

At the root of aggressive driving is impatience. With our faced-paced lives, many of us are always in a rush. Yet when you’re behind the wheel, taking it slow and practicing defensive driving behaviors can go a long way toward protecting your safety – and that of others.