29 Aug How to Survive Road Rage
Most drivers will experience road rage at some point when they’re behind the wheel. Knowing how to avoid or defuse any aggressive situation will keep you and others safe and secure on the road.
Aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, unnecessary horn honking, and verbal abuse are common. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 80% of drivers have expressed significant anger behind the wheel at least once in the past year.
Whether you’re on the receiving or delivering end of aggressive driving, such behaviors pose a significant safety risk. Aggressive driving can sometimes escalate into road rage, which is the expression of extreme anger or frustration through behaviors that intend to intimidate or harm another driver or pedestrian. In the worst cases, road rage incidents can result in injury and even death.
To keep roads safe and minimize aggressive driving, it’s important to learn to deal with road rage from other drivers and curb your own aggressive behaviors.
How to Respond to Road Rage
Encountering aggressive driving behaviors can be a jarring experience. There’s little that can be done to prevent another driver from engaging in risky driving practices, and there are many ways that a dangerous situation can escalate. AAA and law enforcement experts have provided the following tips to help drivers know how to react appropriately when faced with road rage:
- Avoid aggressive drivers. If you see a vehicle driving aggressively while you’re on the road, try to put as much space between yourself and the other driver as possible. If possible, pull over and let the driver pass before continuing to drive.
- Avoid eye contact and rude gestures. Eye contact may cause the other driver to target your vehicle, while gestures and yelling could escalate the situation and increase the driver’s aggressiveness.
- Do not respond to an aggressive driver. Responding to an aggressive driver with your own aggressive behaviors, such as tailgating or trying to cut them off, will only make things more dangerous by increasing the behavior. It also puts one more dangerous driver on the road.
- Stay in your car. If an aggressive driver causes an accident, pull over and remain in your car until help arrives.
- Remain calm. If you find yourself engaged with an aggressive driver, stay calm and try to maintain a positive attitude. You may be able to defuse a tense situation.
- Call for help. If you’re physically threatened by another driver, call 911 to report the incident. If possible, drive to a police station, hospital, fire station, or other public space.
Avoiding Aggressive Behaviors
As important as it is to know how to deal with aggressive drivers, it’s also important to manage your own driving behaviors and moods. Here are some ways to avoid engaging in aggressive driving behaviors that could escalate into road rage:
- Know the speed limit. Speeding is one of the most common aggressive driving behaviors. Before getting on the road, be aware of the speed limit. Higher speeds correlate to the severity of crashes, so following the speed limit will lead to safer driving in general.
- Avoid tailgating. Tailgating is another common aggressive driving behavior. Be mindful of cars in front of you, and maintain at least five seconds of space between you and another car at all times.
- Use your turn signals. Letting people know your intentions with turning will help prevent you from cutting other cars off. You should also always check your mirrors to determine how much distance there is between you and other vehicles.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Driving, particularly in a large city, is stressful — and stress can lead to aggression. Deep breathing exercises, audiobooks, and calming music can all help relax your mood if you find yourself stressed out and angry while driving.
- Don’t take things personally. While seeing another driver engage in aggressive behaviors can be frustrating, there may be a reason why the other driver is speeding or swerving through traffic. They may be dealing with an emergency situation, such as driving to a hospital.
Though aggressive driving is a common experience for most drivers, it should be controlled as much as possible, because, particularly when it escalates to road rage, it makes the roadways dangerous for everyone. Fortunately, there is a plethora of techniques you can rely on to avoid aggressive drivers and manage your own frustrations.