By Rob Cunningham, ANAD Safety OfficeJanuary 23, 2020
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The other day, while driving, a van quickly accelerated behind me and was close to the back of my vehicle. I was operating at the posted speed limit but, obviously, the van operator was in a hurry and I was in the way.
There were no authorized passing areas or safe places to pass and the van continued to "tailgate" my vehicle.
I could see the look of frustration and anger on the van operator's face. I made a left hand turn and the van quickly accelerated, traveling straight on the road I had just turned off.
Where do you think I was driving? Atlanta, Birmingham, possibly Anniston? I was on Roosevelt Avenue at Anniston Army Depot.
Aggressive driving, or "road rage," is a common term we hear while driving, having conversations with friends and coworkers, and especially in the news when tragic accidents or acts of violence occur.
Aggressive driving contributes to nearly five million accidents a year. Collisions are the leading cause of death for people ages 3 to 33 years old and over 50 percent of fatal collisions are caused by aggressive driving.
Driving is a privilege granted by the state, which issues your driver's license, and the government when operating on military installations or operating a government vehicle.
We must treat this privilege with care because without a driver's license, you couldn't get to work, stores, school or visit friends and relatives.
So, ask yourself, "Am I a safe and courteous driver?"
Driving fast or over the posted speed limit is only one indicator of Aggressive Driving.
Failing to yield the right of way, erratic lane changes, failure to signal, cutting someone off, repeatedly sounding your horn or failure to obey traffic signs and signals are other common indicators.
Operating any type of vehicle on depot requires your full attention and you should not be distracted by phone calls, text messages, loud music, eating or other activities which can take your eyes off the road.
When approaching a pedestrian crosswalk, look at both sides of the roadway for people entering the crosswalk. Be prepared to stop and let them cross.
Employees deserve the right to safely walk to any building on the installation without having close calls with vehicle traffic.
Specialty vehicles used by shop, maintenance and other employees should be operated with caution and only in designated areas.
These vehicles have low speed capabilities and are not to be driven on highways, public roads or roads with high speeds, such as traveling on Roosevelt Avenue to get across the depot.
Always be aware of material handling equipment, such as forklifts, warehouse tractors and large pull tractors for combat vehicles.
These vehicles are designed for specific purposes and operate differently than passenger cars and trucks.
Always allow these vehicles plenty of room to maneuver and always give combat vehicles the right of way. Safely pull to the side of the road, if needed, to provide sufficient clearance for them.
The beginning and the end of your work shift might be frustrating. When entering or exiting the depot, be courteous to other drivers.
In most cases, these are our coworkers, though they might be a first-time visitor to the depot.
When merging into single lanes, use the alternative merge, or zipper, method. Drivers take alternating turns through a "zipper-like" pattern, funneling into a single lane.
This method is quite effective and can actually save time for all drivers.
Since driving in traffic can be frustrating at times, remember to take a few deep breaths and use a few seconds more to drive courteously and arrive home or to your destination safely.