Road Rage and How to Avoid It
Peterson is the chairman of a Michigan State Police committee on driver behavior, so he studies the issue closely.
Peterson finds a sharp contrast between his experience and the recent Affinion survey.
"We find that aggressive driving is not normally the result of distracted drivers," said Peterson. "It is usually the result of some environmental or engineering issue related to the physical roads where aggressive driving occurs."
Peterson stated and presented data to support that major contributors to aggressive driving include: speed limits that are too low for the road, traffic congestion, poorly timed traffic lights, and stop signs placed to lower speeds. These act as instigators to drivers speeding, changing lanes, and tailgating; all characteristics of "aggressive" driving.
Peterson explained that changes made to roadways where aggressive driving occurs reduce incidents of aggressive driving. As proof, Peterson pointed to changes made on a section of I-496 outside of Lansing, Michigan. At one point, this road accounted for 40-percent of reported incidents of aggressive driving within a particular county. When the speed limit was raised from 55 mph to 70 mph, incidents of aggressive driving dropped to zero.
"The low speed limit frustrated many drivers, so they drove over the speed limit," said Peterson. "This caused problems for other drivers who were driving at the speed limit. The speed differential caused the tailgating, passing, and speeding that were reported as 'aggressive' driving."
Data proved that accident rates also fell when the speed limit was raised on that section of highway. Surprisingly, the faster limit increased traffic volume, nearly eliminating all symptoms of rush hour traffic.