This Tuesday as children and school personnel head back to school, many motorists will find their once easy and fast route to work is now much slower. “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” falls on Tuesday, September 2 (the day after Labor Day) and is deemed by AAA Mid-Atlantic as a day of hassle and frustration for many Virginia commuters.
AAA is advising motorists to budget extra travel time to commute to work, school or other activities to avoid driver frustration which can lead to dangerous consequences. “Tuesday will prove to be a day with heavier traffic than usual, allow extra time to avoid undesirable driving behaviors such as aggressive driving or even worse, road rage,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Aggressive driving is defined by behavior that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property such as tailgating, abrupt lane changes and speeding. However, Road Rage is a criminal offense that occurs when a traffic incident escalates into a violent and far more serious situation. In Virginia, the law clearly states that aggressive driving shall be punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, aggressive driving with the intent to injure another person shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to these penalties, the court may require successful completion of an aggressive driving program.
AAA advises the following to help motorists curb and avoid driver frustrations
Allot Extra Travel Time. Back to school often means increased congestion and longer commute times. Motorists should allot extra travel time or adjust their departure time when school is in session to avoid any temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an effort to ‘catch up’ after being delayed.
Review Your Travel Route. Motorists should consider modifying their travel route to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods. A slightly longer route might actually be quicker by avoiding congestion and much lower speed limits in and around school zones.
Ways to reduce and avoid incidents of road rage
Don’t cut off or drive slowly in the left-hand lane. Use your signal to let other drivers know of your intentions. If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let them by. In many states, the law stipulates the left lane for passing only. If you do cut someone off, try to apologize by using an appropriate gesture.
Don’t be a tailgater. Allow at least a two-second space between your car and the car ahead. If the car in front of you is going too slowly and you cannot pass— pull back and allow more space, not less. This way, if the driver does something unexpectedly, you will have time to get out of the way. If you feel like you are being tailgated, signal and pull over to let the other vehicle go by.
Don’t engage or respond. Avoid gesturing, even if it is as simple as shaking your fist in anger. Use your horn rarely, if ever. Refuse to become angry at aggressive drivers. Instead, if they try to pick a fight, give them as much room and distance on the road as possible. Never, pull to the side of the road to try and “settle things.”
Avoid eye contact. Looking or staring at another driver can turn an impersonal encounter into a duel.
Alert authorities. If you believe you are being followed by an aggressive driver, use your cell phone or pull into a safe, well-lit location (such as a police station, convenience store or shopping center) to call police.
Get help. Anger management classes teach effective techniques that can reduce aggressive-driving attitude and behavior. Self-help books on anger management and stress reduction can also be helpful.