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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Quell aggression and distraction

Need a good resolution for 2019?  How about avoiding aggression and distraction while driving?    Aggression and distraction are two precursors of driving mayhem that all drivers must reckon with.  I’ve written of these dreaded behaviors often, but the ills of their existence persist.

Actually, certain manifestations of aggressive tendencies may be helpful.  Drivers who accelerate promptly, keep their speed consistent near the posted limits, make turns briskly in proper lanes, pass with confidence, park decisively, merge with precision, and maneuver to leave space around their vehicles get my validation as good aggressive drivers.

But aggressive driving is harmful if it turns to rage when other drivers make mistakes.  It’s amazing to me that incidents of rage can occur as a result of something as simple as another driver’s failure to signal — or from the display of a middle finger.

As I’ve stated before, you can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your reactions to them.  Please muster up all of your available patience when you encounter drivers who are making errors.   There’s likely a reason for their foul-up (medical, family disaster), and even if the reason is that they are drunk, you should calmly accommodate their transgressions and avoid a crash if possible.  Aggression and rage will only exacerbate the situation.

It takes very little to aggravate some drivers.  For example, in an online forum I read, one driver said that he gets irate, “when there are cars on the road.”

Beware of the signs of destructive aggression:  swearing, insulting, or threatening other drivers — seeking revenge by fantasizing or acting out hostile acts, or lapsing into irrational thinking and risky behavior.  The potential consequences are not worth it!

Now for distraction — we drivers already had plenty of it before cell phones, and now cell phones head the list.  I’ve covered this topic over the time that mobiles have made their meteoric rise to the top of the driver distraction list.  Each new study finds greater ills arising from driving while gabbing and texting.  Merely having a phone conversation has shown to lower reaction times to those of a person having a .08 percent blood alcohol count (legally drunk).  This diminished physical capacity that can’t be overcome with skill or practice.

This is concerning to me because of the huge numbers of drivers I see talking and texting.  Studies show that at any time, one out of four drivers is using a cell phone.  I think it may be closer to two out of four from what I’ve witnessed.  Yesterday, as I was lead car at a red light in a left turn lane, lighting and visibility allowed me to see the drivers of the three cars directly behind me using hand-held phones.  There were only five of us in line, so over half of the group was guilty.

Please try to make mobile calls when your vehicle is immobile.  Wishful thinking made me wonder if those drivers stopped behind me were taking advantage of the red light to make a short call.  Not so — instead they jabbered as we embarked.

Hopefully, the humans are improving their multi-tasking abilities — or better yet, eliminating distracted driving where possible.

There should be no debate that aggression and distraction are not conducive to safety.  When it comes to driving next year, let’s all resolve to do better!

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at precisiondriving@spokesman.com.