Dealing With Impatient Drivers

Topic 21576 | Page 2

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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Interestingly enough I think the correct answer is a combination of the above. You should indeed try not let anything bother you. You always want to keep your cool, think clearly, and focus on safety at all times. You have to accept the fact that the world is full of irresponsible people. One of the biggest challenges for a professional driver is to manage your own vehicle while at the same time handling the shortcomings of the amateurs around you. If someone gets mad at you for being in the way then that's their problem. However, they can quickly make it your problem and they often will as G-Town pointed out.

Aggressive, impatient drivers have already lost their perspective on things. They're not thinking clearly. Their priorities have become skewed and safety is no longer their priority. You have to be aware of how dangerous they are and what a threat they have become.

I'm always more comfortable having someone in front of me that I don't trust. I don't want someone who is distracted by texting or aggressive and impatient floating around behind me or next to me. I try to do what I can to get them in front of me so I can keep an eye on them. In my 4 wheeler I regularly pull off to the side or signal like I'm making a turn to get someone off my back bumper. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will ride 10 feet off your bumper at 55 - 70 mph. I won't let em do it. I'll either slow down a little on the Interstate so they'll pass me, or signal like I'm turning and get onto the shoulder on a two lane road when traffic is clear to let them go by.

It can be tough at times keeping your cool and not taking their aggressiveness personally, but it's critical that you find a way. One sign of a Top Tier Professional is someone who can control their emotions and maintain the discipline to make safe, smart decisions at all times. The more you practice this the better you'll become at it.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Gladhand's Comment
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It comes with the job, would always have impatient people like that when I would leave certain Wal-Mart stores in El Paso. They always have them near a damn off ramp so leaving the store especially the ones right along i10 could be a pain. This would often lead to honks and being flipped off, which is quite funny being that i just brought the groceries to the store they just shopped at.

G town made a good point of being aware of them as well as expecting them to do something stupid. Had a person drive around me on a single left turn in Houston. As long as you expect it you will be ok.

Another thing is a saying Errol taught me, drive your own road. Those damn people should have left before you did. Not your fault that busy intersection doesn't have better signage to help you cross. As long as you keep your cool, you already won.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
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(Thanks, Gladhand! I was framing up my post when I read your credit line for me.)

Yes, you have your own route, that 99.999% of the time does not involve said honking driver. Drive for yourself. Also, in a zen way, do not allow another person take control of your life. If you decide to react to the driver causing trouble, you have just given them control, and you will be interacting with them instead of doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Also, as stated earlier, know what's going on around you (AKA Situational Awareness). I call this Driving Four Cars At Once. Besides your own vehicle, you should be guessing what the other cars around you are going to do. (Exit ramp ahead, and a car in front of you slows down just a bit. Are they going to exit or not?) This includes the Road Rage driver along side of you. What are they going to do next?

So in fact, do not ignore angry drivers, give them your full attention, but do not drive for their benefit.

Robert J.'s Comment
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It comes with the job, would always have impatient people like that when I would leave certain Wal-Mart stores in El Paso. They always have them near a damn off ramp so leaving the store especially the ones right along i10 could be a pain. This would often lead to honks and being flipped off, which is quite funny being that i just brought the groceries to the store they just shopped at.

G town made a good point of being aware of them as well as expecting them to do something stupid. Had a person drive around me on a single left turn in Houston. As long as you expect it you will be ok.

Another thing is a saying Errol taught me, drive your own road. Those damn people should have left before you did. Not your fault that busy intersection doesn't have better signage to help you cross. As long as you keep your cool, you already won.

I've lived in Houston all of my life. We have absolutely horrible drivers. Some of them act like they are driving in the Grand Theft Auto games.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Michael C.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

You're the good driver, they're not. It's a general rule of thumb that the masses do everything terribly and don't appreciate that they're doing everything terribly. Driving's no different. You just learn to ignore it.

double-quotes-end.png

Think about that last sentence....

Ignoring an impatient driver is not a safe or professional practice. Depending on the nature of their hurried behavior, you may need to take evasive action to avoid an accident. Maintain an increased level of caution whenever in heavy traffic, when turning, when someone is merging onto the interstate or approaching to pass.

You're right--I meant "ignore" more as a state of mind, not an actionable way of driving. Of course you should never ignore information on the road, and someone's aggression/impatience is useful information. That's a good reminder: the way to handle impatient drivers is to account for their impatience.

The OP was wondering, though, about how to not let aggressive drivers get to him. And I'd say outside of meditation or some trancelike state, hopefully not drug-induced, the way to cope is through experience. ****ing people off is unavoidable, especially, it seems, when deviating from the norm (i.e. driving too aggressively or too cautiously). There's no way around this. It's fairly common that someone gets upset with me for observing safe following distance. I mean, it doesn't happen every day, or every week, but it does happen several times throughout the year. Eventually it doesn't bother you anymore. I'm going to guess that OP has started driving safely relatively recently, as part of his trucking education, and that's why it's sticking out.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Michael C.'s Comment
member avatar

My last reply looks like I'm saying the OP only recently became a safe driver. Not my intention, so let me clarify.

Except for an at-fault accident when I was 18, I drove with a basically spotless driving record for fifteen consecutive years (not a truck driver). According to an insurance actuary, at least, I was a "safe" driver, especially when I got married. Yay for marriage rates.

Upon reflection, though, I wouldn't say I was a particularly "safe" driver. I was a normal driver. My speed limit tended to be "whatever the car in front's going, minus two." I tailgated, though didn't call it that. Slammed my brakes at the last second. Talked on the phone, paying no attention to what went on around me. I had no reason to believe what I did was dangerous or wrong because everyone else did it, too.

The problem is that driving has an unreliable feedback loop. The two primary outcomes of driving are binary: did you get in an accident and did you receive a citation? And these events are rare enough, for most people, that when they DO happen, it's easy to attribute them to luck. Get a citation and blame the cop: biased, jerk, control freak, needs to "fill a quota." Have an accident and divine a thousand reasons for why you're not at fault or that maybe you shoulder some of the blame but certainly not as much as the other driver. Given the rarity of these events, then, it's easy to believe driving's inherently safe and to shelter in statistics--yes, many people die each year in traffic accidents, but look at how many people drive period!

So when I suggest OP might not have been paying attention to cautious driving, I mean he might've been like me and driving like everyone else. "Normal" driving works for almost every circumstance--that's what obviously makes it "normal." If it didn't work, then it would've been weeded out long ago and replaced by other behaviors. But clearly in some circumstances the normal driver will be at a disadvantage--too close to brake safely, too fast to swerve, whatever. It's when the excellent drivers on this forum and out on the road, few and far between they may be, might avoid an accident that a "normal" driver wouldn't. That's the problem of the largely results-oriented way to interpret driving. The people here don't do that. When you get in a near-miss, it probably haunts you and you consider what went wrong, what you could've done differently, so on and so forth.

Now, when I stopped driving normally and instead safely, I started annoying people. As a normal driver, I drove like most everyone else so it was rare to bother anyone. It happened, but very rarely. Now I notice wild gesticulations, obscene gestures, and whatever else satisfies the childish whims of road ragers at a much greater frequency. Don't get me wrong: it's not common. It's not like every time I hit the road I'm getting flipped off. But it happens more. Going the speed limit is obviously the number one offender, since every motorist behind me has a chance to get upset (unlike following distance, which really only happens when we're in heavy congestion and drivers want to get up to the next car asap because, well, because I suppose they want to exercise some control over the helpless situation and it FEELS better to ride a bumper than a car length back in stop-n-go). Most motorists don't get upset at my observing the limit. But some do, even on the highway when there's ample opportunity for them to pass. It happens.

When you start ACTIVELY driving safely--as you MUST do to operate a tractor trailer--you annoy people. It's the burden of safe driving. OP, I don't know if you were like me. Maybe you've always driven cautiously. If you're now noticing the impatient behavior, though, it might be the case that, like me, you didn't always drive so cautiously and now must come to grips with the fact that people will get upset with you for being in their way.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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