Let’s face it, everyone gets frustrated behind the wheel. And it’s understandable; between traffic, construction, aggressive drivers and bad weather, it’s easy to become annoyed while driving. However, for too many people, these slight annoyances can escalate to dangerous levels of anger.
Defined as “aggressive or violent behavior stemming from a driver’s uncontrolled anger at the actions of another motorist,” road rage can range in seriousness and severity. Maybe you have been a victim of it yourself, maybe you been the instigator, or maybe you have been both, but hopefully you’ve never had to deal with the more extreme effects of road rage. Over the past seven years, over 200 people have been killed because of road rage, and over 12,000 have been injured.
Here are a few things to look out for on the road. Although some of these seem like small signs of aggravation, they are all capable of escalating quickly.
- Honking and holding the horn for an extended amount of time
- Tailgating (not maintaining a safe distance between vehicles)
- Weaving through traffic
- Slamming breaks
- Obscene gestures
- Making fists/slamming the dashboard or wheel
- Cutting off other cars
- Unsafe/erratic merging
When you notice either yourself or another driver display signs of road rage, the best thing to do is to diffuse it as quickly as possible. If you notice someone becoming aggressive and driving erratically, get out of their way, slow down, and let them drive away. Do not make eye contact with them if they are next to you, and don’t retaliate if they yell or make an obscene gesture, as it will only escalate things further. If the driver starts exhibiting signs of violence, such as driving in front of you and slamming their brakes, getting out of their vehicle, displaying a firearm or making physical threats, you should get away from them immediately and call 911.
If you’re the one getting angry, you can turn the music down, stop talking to passengers, and try to re-focus your attention on the road ahead. You should distance yourself from other drivers, and if you feel especially aggressive, you should pull over and take a rest. And most importantly, realize that hurting someone, hurting yourself, getting a ticket, or causing damage to your vehicle is never worth a few seconds of losing your temper.!