Warnings about being careful on the road, traffic congestion and increased police patrols are fairly commonplace, especially around peak holiday travel periods, but a survey out last month that put Baltimore and Washington, D.C. near the top of the list for rude drivers adds some additional perspective to the challenges we face getting around our area even when there isn't holiday traffic to worry about.

To be fair, Prince Market Research only looked at drivers in 25 metropolitan areas, so the distinction of being near the top of the list is tempered a bit by that fact. Baltimore drivers ranked third, just ahead of D.C. Houston earned the honor as having the rudest drivers. Atlanta came in second in the rankings.

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We know, or should know, that getting around is difficult even on a good day. Traffic in many areas can put us at wit's end, and it only takes one or two encounters with tailgaters, lane changers or inattentive drivers to turn a bad commute into a rotten one. When that happens, at least according to the survey, we are not the most tolerant folks on the road.

With holiday travel expected to be higher than last year — 1.6 percent higher according to AAA Mid-Atlantic — expect the roads to be congested, especially during peak travel periods.

About 718,000 of the 858,400 Fourth of July weekend travelers will be getting to their destination by vehicle, AAA Mid-Atlantic said. The rest will be taking planes, trains or buses.

Police say they will increase patrols, and be especially on the lookout for impaired or aggressive drivers. But the police can't be everywhere.

The best way to reduce stress on holiday travel is to go during off-peak periods, if possible. If not, better to resign yourself to probable delays and the inevitable close encounters with others on the road.

And if we can do that during the heaviest travel days of the summer, then perhaps we could also do that on our daily commutes, at least once in a while. We'll keep the distinction as being among the rudest drivers for a while, at least until there's another survey, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying now to improve upon that by taking a close look at our own driving habits and adjusting them accordingly.

Wherever your travels take you, either far away or just down the road to the local fireworks display, please drive carefully and have a safe holiday.

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