How to Spot Dangerous Drivers and Avoid Them

There are four things that can cause a person to become a dangerous driver; attention, condition, environment, and road rage. If you learn to spot people who are being affected by these four things you will be better able to avoid them and hopefully prevent their decreased driving skills from negatively impacting your driving experience.

1 – Attention

Attention refers to the attention the driver is paying to his or her surroundings as well as the act of driving. If the attention of the other driver is not completely on the task of driving, then he or she is a potentially dangerous driver. There are several indicators that the driver’s attention is being divided between driving and another task. If you notice that the driver is talking or texting on a cell phone, eating, talking with other passengers, looking at a map, or pursuing any other task while attempting to drive it is best to pass them quickly if you are already next to them. If you are behind them, slow down considerably and allow them to leave your immediate area if you notice the behavior while you are still behind them.

2 – Condition

Pay attention to the condition of the vehicles around you, it can be an indicator of the driver’s commitment to safe driving. If a car has a broken signal or tail light it will be difficult to anticipate their movements in traffic, this could lead to an accident. If the vehicle clearly has a spare tire replacing one of the four standard tires, be especially careful because that smaller tire is not as safe over long distances or high speeds. You have no idea how long it has been installed on the vehicle and it is better to be mindful of the risks associated with it. Just because other drivers are being careless in the condition of their car does not make you less responsible for paying attention to them. They are obviously being somewhat careless in the maintenance of their vehicle, which makes them potentially dangerous drivers. While it is true that the faulty equipment could be a recent development and that the driver may already have an appointment to remedy the situation, the fact remains that if a vehicle is not at optimum operating efficiency, the driver is subsequently bound to be more dangerous. The driver may simply be able to less effectively communicate their intentions to other drivers and because the safety of the vehicle has been compromised.

3 – Environment

The environment in which you and the other motorists are driving can cause people who are normally good drivers to become dangerous drivers. People who drive well in normal road conditions may not be able to react appropriately in heavy rain or snow. In inclement weather, it is best to consider all drivers to be potentially dangerous drivers and give other vehicles on the road more room than you normally would to allow for slower reaction times and decreased visibility. In heavy rain, what appear to be small puddles may actually be significant bodies of water that could cause a vehicle to stall in the middle of the road, requiring rapid deceleration on your part. What appears to be clear asphalt in the middle of a cold snap could actually be what is known as black ice, or a patch of road that has frozen becoming quite slippery and causing other drivers to lose control of their vehicle. Be as conscious of the environment you are driving in as the drivers you are surrounded by as the environment could at any moment turn those safe drivers into dangerous drivers.

4 – Road Rage

Road rage is typically regarded as being a heightened sense of anger when engaged in driving. Drivers who are experiencing road rage are quite dangerous. If you notice a driver acting aggressively towards you or other drivers on the road it is best to avoid them completely and not provoke them further by driving aggressively or by retaliating with offensive words or gestures, which could lead to a violent confrontation.

Dangerous drivers are all around us when we enter traffic. Even people who are normally excellent drivers can become dangerous if they become distracted or if they encounter weather they are not accustomed to driving in. It is almost impossible to completely avoid dangerous drivers, however, you can mitigate the danger they pose by being vigilant in looking for signs that they are not being as diligent in driving as they should be and by taking measures to limit your proximity to them.

Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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