“Calm down“: Why aggression in traffic is so dangerous

Aggression in traffic is increasing. Increasingly, the police are called on the highways to incidents involving “tailgating”, aggressive passing from the right, dangerous brake maneuvers or excessive speeding. In such situations the drivers are often described as aggressive and short-tempered. But especially as a driver I should always keep a cool head in order to react appropriately in extreme situations.

§ 1 StVO basic rule

  1. Driving requires constant attention and mutual consideration.
  2. Anyone who participates in traffic must behave in such a way that no one else is harmed, endangered or, more than unavoidable under the circumstances, hindered or harassed.

Often, aggressive behavior is attributed to too much stress. According to the definition (Duden) stress means an increased physical or psychological pressure. In this case, the human being reacts to too much or heavy stress usually by attack, flight or “playing-dead”. On the physical level, in these exceptional situations, the muscles are tense and the cardiovascular system is activated. On the emotional level, strong emotional reactions can occur. If I am permanently stressed, small triggers (slowdown due to congestion, slow driving, etc.) are enough to cause overreaction. This is the so-called drip that overflows the barrel. At that moment, there is a danger that I overreact and lose control (tailgating, pushing, headlight flashing, etc.) – with possible fatal consequences.

Prevention tip for stress / overstrain

  • Well structured daily routine
  • Schedule time reserves if possible
  • Do not work multiple things at the same time
  • Minimize external stimuli (for example, do not talk on the phone at the same time, drive, operate your navigation system, listen to the radio, look through shipping documents, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Calming through proper breathing, relaxation exercises
  • Nice thoughts (family, holidays etc.)

Prevention tip for tiredness

  • Be aware of microsleep (pause immediately at the first sign)
  • Leave the vehicle, movement and fresh air help
  • Stop if possible and take a brief nap (maximum 20 minutes).
  • Pay attention to the right diet. High-fat meals often result in the body needing all the processing resources and results in feeling even more tired.
  • Really use rest periods for recreation

Attention! Coffee, loud music or distraction are inappropriate to stay awake.

Know yourself!

Self-assessment, know your own warning signals or inhibition threshold and have coping strategies ready.

  • Temperamental characters are often quick to take risks and get carried away.
  • In defensive characters, frustration builds up slower, but can eventually lead to an explosion.

Attention: Alcohol is a “wrong helper”!

Drinking to be able to fall asleep in the evening is usually counterproductive. The alcohol makes you tired quickly, but leads to the fact that the active ingredients prevent a deep sleep phase, and thus the actual recovery for the body is too short.

Problem case intent

Aggressive behavior on the roads should definitely be avoided. One problem are drivers, who deliberately and purposely go out onto the streets with the aim of being as risky as possible. Belonging to this group are the participants of illegal car racing. Therefore, the legislator introduced a new offense legislation in October 2017:

§ 315d StGB: Prohibited motor vehicle racing

This is punishable for anyone who organizes or carries out an unauthorized race, participates or moves as a motor vehicle driver with improper speed and grossly against traffic rules and ruthlessly, in order to achieve the highest possible speed.

Other possible violations:

  • § 29 StVO Excessive road use (for example, car racing, unauthorized heavy load rides or convoys, etc.)
  • § 240 StGB Coercion
  • § 142 StGB Hit and Run: unauthorized removal from the scene of the accident


Distance violations, speeding violations, keeping right except when passing, overtaking ban, violation of right of way, other obligations of the driver.

Predictive driving style, defensive rather than aggressive behavior and forgiving mistakes of other road users creates more traffic safety for everyone!

Martina Habeck

The department for road safety of police Münster informs drivers of commercial goods and persons free by sending regular “information-mails”. We will keep you up-to-date on news and changes in the social rules (driving and rest periods). Information on digital recording equipment, cargo securing and anything that might be important to you, we will pass on to you.
Are you interested? Be curious!
Send us an email to join our mailing list! E-mail: vsb.muenster@polizei.nrw.de

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