What to Do When You Witness Dangerous Driving

Dangerous driving is a disturbingly common sight on American roads. Every year, there are countless crashes caused by speeding, aggressive tailgating, reckless lane changes, and other dangerous behaviors. High-risk driving behaviors put a driver and everyone else around them in danger of significant or even fatal harm. Knowing how to react when you witness dangerous driving can help you avoid getting into an accident and protect your car’s occupants. Of course, if an accident does occur, a Portland car accident lawyer at Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC may be able to help with your case.

Identifying Dangerous Driving Behavior

To avoid dangerous drivers, you must first be able to accurately spot them on the road. Some common forms of aggressive driving include:

  • Driving significantly over the speed limit
  • Weaving through traffic without signaling
  • Tailgating, particularly with obscene gestures or a verbal altercation
  • Disregarding traffic signals, such as stop signs or red lights

Keep an eye out for drivers operating their vehicle erratically, struggling to stay in control of their car, or making unexpected maneuvers for no apparent reason. You should also be alert to potential signs of impairment, such as slow reaction times, swerving, or driving without headlights in low-visibility situations.

Immediate Safety Measures

Anytime you become aware of a dangerous driver on the road, you need to take action to ensure the safety of everyone inside your own vehicle. To begin with, increase the distance between your car and the dangerous driver if it is safe to do so. Having a larger buffer zone between the two vehicles gives you more time and space to react if you need to make an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision. You should not attempt to communicate with, confront, or otherwise engage the other driver. This can escalate the situation and put you at risk of serious harm.

You should constantly practice defensive driving, but this is particularly true when you are dealing with a dangerous motorist. You need to proactively prepare for potential problems and think of how they can be avoided. Remain focused on the road, limit distractions, and be prepared to stop or change lanes quickly. You may wish to reduce your speed or change lanes to create more space between you and the dangerous driver. Even if you are running on a strict schedule, arriving at your destination promptly is not worth the risk of an accident.

Reporting the Incident

You don’t necessarily need to report every instance of dangerous driving to law enforcement. If no one is in danger or a driver simply made a single mistake due to a moment of inattention, you likely don’t need to call 911. Use your judgment to assess how serious your particular situation is. If one or more drivers are exhibiting extremely reckless behavior, may be impaired, or are an immediate threat to public safety, report the incident to law enforcement.

When reporting, gather as much information as you can so law enforcement can identify the driver of the other vehicle. Provide a detailed description of the other car, including the make, model, and license plate number (if visible). Explain what happened and how the other driver was acting erratically or dangerously. If a crash occurs and there are witnesses, take down their contact information and convey this information to law enforcement as well. The more details you can provide, the easier it is for law enforcement to find and make contact with the other driver.

Technology can be a valuable tool if you notice a dangerous driver. If you have a dashcam installed in your vehicle, you can use the footage to prove your accounting of the incident. Many smartphone apps allow you to share footage directly with law enforcement agencies for this exact purpose.

Follow-Up Actions After Witnessing Dangerous Driving

After encountering a reckless or dangerous driver, take a moment to relax and collect your thoughts. It’s completely normal to feel stressed or nervous after experiencing a risky situation. If you reported the incident, cooperate with law enforcement and provide any additional information they request so they can follow up on your case.

Staying Safe on the Road

By following the steps outlined in this article, you play your part in ensuring that our roads are safer for everyone on them. By prioritizing your safety, remaining calm behind the wheel, and reporting risky driving, you can keep your loved ones safe. Responsible driving reduces the risk of accidents and creates a safe experience for everyone. If you would like to learn more about how to handle dangerous driving situations, you can refer to the online resources compiled by your local Department of Motor Vehicles.