By Tim Schewe
A good definition of an aggressive driver is “an individual committing a combination of moving traffic offences so as to endanger other persons or property.” Do you fit this definition? Due to our built in optimism bias, the answer to this question is most likely “no.”
The problem with regulating aggressive driving is that behaviour defined as aggressive by law is often considered normal by everyday drivers. Road rage is the far end of the spectrum of aggressive driving.
Watch the vehicles around you the next time you are on a busy highway. Chances are, you will soon see drivers who need to go faster than everyone else. They end up tailgating the vehicle in front and when it doesn’t move, make sudden lane changes to go around, often without signalling. In my experience these drivers are not just young males, but include everyone from young to old and are both men and women.
Do these drivers realize what they are doing? I think some do and don’t care, but the majority are just in a hurry and don’t consider the possible consequences of their actions. They’ve done it before and nothing bad resulted, so it becomes their default behaviour.
Unfortunately, waiting until something does happen is not the way to find out you’ve gone too far.
What are we doing about aggressive driving? Search the word “aggressive” in B.C.’s Road Safety Strategy 2025 and you will find only three instances over 36 pages. The first appears in relation to enforcement, telling us that IRSU units are important partners in road safety. The other two are found in the description of causes of collisions.
RoadSafetyBC and ICBC have a large contribution to make in the reduction of aggressive driving. Since the majority of collisions are no longer investigated and reported on by police, it is up to them to share information and decide whether to apply the Driver Improvement Program to an aggressive driver.
An online search will easily find data on collisions and enforcement by police; I am not able to find anything on how the Driver Improvement Program has been applied to aggressive drivers.
So, the next time you are in a hurry and find yourself cursing the slug ahead of you who is only five over the limit and won’t get out of the way, even with you riding only a few feet off their back bumper, take a good look at yourself in the rearview mirror. Think of all you will gain by doing this and compare it to all that you (or others) may lose if your choices cause a crash.
Perhaps it’s time to join the few in the right hand lane doing the speed limit and effectively managing their space cushion.
Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca