What’s the Difference Between Defensive and Aggressive Driving?

What’s the Difference Between Defensive and Aggressive Driving?

Do you consider yourself a defensive driver or an aggressive driver? Do you know the difference?

In Florida, the difference between defensive driving and aggressive driving can get legal—and dangerous. It’s important to be aware of our driving styles and to ensure you’re following the rules of the road. Ultimately, it isn’t just about your safety—it’s also about the safety of your passengers and everyone else on the road.

The Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) program in Florida aims to curb poor driving behaviors and educate motorists. People exhibiting aggressive behaviors are pulled over during TACT target times. You may also notice billboards and television PSAs. But what exactly is aggressive driving and why is it so bad?

Aggressive Driving Behaviors

There are specific aggressive driving behaviors that can be dangerous and—let’s be realistic—many of us have participated in these behaviors at one time or another.

Aggressive driving behaviors include: running red lights, weaving through traffic, speeding, tailgating, merging without looking or signaling, and cutting off other cars and trucks. All of these behaviors have the potential to cause an accident.

Whether traffic seems to take forever or you feel like you keep getting stuck behind slowpokes—don’t let it get the better or you. Stay aware and drive safely.

Defensive Driving Behaviors

While defensive driving sounds alarmingly similar to aggressive driving, the two are almost opposites.

Defensive driving focuses on being aware of other drivers and your own behaviors. Generally, defensive drivers don’t eat or talk on the phone as they drive. They avoid distractions so they can remain focused on their main task—arriving safely at their destination. Defensive drivers signal their lane changes and leave plenty of space between themselves and other cars.

Aggressive Drivers Can Cause Accidents

Aggressive driving behaviors are generally centered around the driver’s needs, often ignoring other cars on the road. For example, weaving through traffic because the wait seems interminable fails to recognize that everyone is in the same situation (after all, no one likes traffic). Rather than paying attention to everyone else, they focus on zipping about, sometimes without even signaling, creating a dangerous situation for other drivers.

Other aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating and speeding can place a driver too close to another car, making it less likely that they’ll be able to react in time and stop when necessary. Generally, the time saved by these maneuvers is negligible. Rather, they create a confluence of events that can lead to accidents or road rage.

Drive Defensively to Avoid Accidents

To avoid accidents, it’s helpful to practice driving defensively. Minimize distractions within the car and give yourself enough time to get to where you’re going. Look up directions before heading out so you aren’t distracted by a smartphone or GPS. Drive within the speed limit and signal your lane changes. Basically, do the things you were taught in Driver’s Ed and don’t get caught up in another driver’s bad behavior.

When the Worst Happens—Contact a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney

Driving defensively can help protect you from most accidents but when the worst happens, it may be necessary to protect yourself legally. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid everything. Even defensive drivers will get in car accidents. When that happens, it’s important to once again be aware.

If you’re dealing with mountains of medical debt and a need for prolonged care after the insurance claims have come through, it may be useful to speak to a Tampa personal injury attorney. Consulting with a Florida personal injury attorney can help provide you with a path forward and let you know whether you have a case.