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How to spot an aggressive driver--and what to do

Keeping yourself safe on the road means knowing everything you can about your driving situation, from your vehicle's maintenance status and condition to the presence of hazards. When it comes to those hazards, they can take a variety of forms. Construction areas with people attempting to work by the roadside and the potential for falling debris are a whole different game from icy winter roads, but you have to be prepared for all three. You also have to be prepared for aggressive, unsafe, or reckless drivers. Here's how to spot them and protect yourself while you do it.

Signs of an aggressive driver

Reckless and aggressive driving is easy to spot once you put yourself in a frame of mind to compare normal driving behavior to the aggressive driver. Most people make sure they are following traffic laws fairly closely. They might speed, but they generally stay in their lanes and signal before turning. They also usually avoid aggressive passing maneuvers, passing only when they have space and otherwise being courteous. By contrast, a driver is behaving dangerously when:

· The vehicle is weaving between lanes or spending a lot of time on the shoulder.

· Passing maneuvers involve sudden acceleration and lane changes with little "buffer space" between vehicles.

· Someone is tailgating.

· The car makes intentional maneuvers, such as aggressively staying in your blind spot.

These signs might indicate that someone is just in a hurry, or they might indicate a more serious issue such as road rage. That is why you need to be prepared to protect yourself.

What to do if you encounter an aggressive driver

Try not to engage them. Much of the time, aggressive drivers want to outmaneuver you and move on. Let them. Slow down, and do not compete for the road. If they attempt to pursue and harass you, it is a bad idea to stop the vehicle, because that gives them more room to maneuver. Instead, change your route to attempt to make them lose interest, and contact law enforcement. If they cause an accident, wait until an officer arrives to get out of your vehicle.

If an aggressive driver causes an accident

You may have reason to sue if there is an accident caused by intentional reckless driving, and you are injured. An experienced accident attorney will be able to help you understand whether or not you have a case. If you do, it might be possible to recover some or all of your medical expenses, including lost income, due to the other driver's intentional behavior. The only way to tell whether or not you have a case is to schedule a consultation with an attorney who has experience in this area of the law.

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