Dangerous Driving Behaviors

Aggressive Driving

This dangerous driving behavior is defined by Virginia law as the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person while committing one or more traffic offenses such as failing to stop or yield the right-of-way, avoiding a traffic control device or failing to give way to an overtaking vehicle.

When aggressive drivers are behind the wheel, these high-risk drivers take out their anger on other motorists. Their frustration levels run high while their concerns for fellow motorists run low. They break the law by running stop signs and red lights, speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, passing on the right (including on the shoulder and unpaved portions of the road), making improper and unsafe lane changes, as well as making hand and facial gestures, screaming, honking and flashing their lights.

Protect yourself. If you see an aggressive driver, stay out of the way. Don’t challenge the aggressive driver by speeding up or trying to out-maneuver him. Avoid eye contact and ignore his gestures and shouting. Remember, if you are convicted of aggressive driving, your license could be suspended for ten days or for as long as six months.

Distracted Driving

Driving requires your full attention. There are many distractions that may prevent drivers from focusing on driving: changing the radio or CD, talking to passengers, observing outside surroundings, eating, using a cell phone and more. When on the road, drivers should not use cell phones, computers or other distracting devices except to report a crash or emergency. Before engaging in distracting behavior, pull over and stop the vehicle in a safe location. Virginia law prohibits drivers under age 18 from using cell phones or any other wireless communication device while driving except in a driver emergency and the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped. Text messaging or reading of text messages while driving is illegal for all drivers.

Annually, driver distraction accounts for roughly 20 percent of all traffic crashes in Virginia. Why is distracted driving so deadly? Because while the driver is distracted, the vehicle may move into a high risk situation. The driver then loses precious seconds before recognizing the situation and must make an emergency maneuver. Young distracted drivers are even more susceptible. Failure to maintain proper control, following too closely, and not yielding the right-of-way are common actions of young distracted drivers. Inexperience in handling or controlling a vehicle during an emergency situation combined with distracted driving (cell phone use, other passengers, eyes not on the road, etc.) puts them at greater risk of a crash.

Don’t let this happen to you. Take the following precautions:

  • Concentrate. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times. Also, keep your body alert; sit straight, but relaxed. Look in the direction that you want to go.
  • Set or adjust the controls on the vehicle and other devices as soon as you get in the car and before you begin driving.
  • Do not use a cell phone.
  • Anticipate the traffic and environment around you by searching ahead and checking your rearview mirrors often.
  • Maintain a space cushion around your vehicle. Make sure there is enough room ahead of your vehicle and behind it.
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