Most of us have probably witnessed a reckless driver in the act: tailgating, running red lights, speeding, or whipping around cars. This aggressive behavior goes beyond bad driving when the driver begins shouting, using obscene gestures, or exiting the vehicle to confront others.
If you’ve ever seen road rage, you know how scary it can be. One aggressive act can trigger more negative responses from others, escalating quickly into a very dangerous situation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as when an individual commits moving traffic offenses that endanger other persons or property. AAA reports that aggressive behaviors account for more than half of all fatal crashes.
How can I change my aggressive behavior?
Maybe you already know that you’re an aggressive driver. If you aren’t sure, AAA has a quiz for you.
There are several ways to deal with your aggressive driving, but the best thing to do is plan ahead. Allow yourself some extra time so that you aren’t forced to speed, zip through traffic, or get hostile toward slower drivers. If it’s the interstate that triggers your road rage, find a different route to work.
And don’t forget, you can always try out public transportation as well; when someone else is driving, you can read, listen to music, or just relax—definitely a less stressful way to start your day.
Is there anything I can do so I don’t become a victim of road rage?
Yes—focus on being a good driver. The strategies to avoid inciting road rage are very similar to those you would use to prevent feeling that rage yourself. Always give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. That way, being a courteous driver is not an inconvenience.
Follow the rules of the road by using your turn signals, and honk your horn only when necessary (to prevent accidents). Allow other drivers to merge, and when you merge, make sure you have enough room to get over so that you aren’t cutting another vehicle off. When on the interstate, don’t hang out in the left lane if you aren’t planning on passing. And always avoid tailgating the car in front of you; instead, back off and wait until you can safely pass.
What should I do if I’m confronted by an aggressive driver?
A driver in the grip of road range can be as dangerous and unpredictable as a wild animal. You know how they say you should never try to outrun a bear or look an aggressive dog in the eyes? The same holds true here. Try to safely get out of the driver’s way.
Avoid eye contact, and don’t retaliate by speeding up or slowing down. It will only make the angry driver more upset, and you have no idea how far the other driver will take his road rage. If you are concerned about your safety and the safety of the other vehicles around you, call the police. Get a good look at the vehicle, and if you can, memorize the license plate. If the driver gets out of the vehicle and confronts you, don’t get out of your car. Lock your doors, and if you can, drive away. Contact the police if you feel threatened.